By Jacky Miller and Sandy Ayres
The Immigration Task Force worked with local partners back in late spring to develop a Neighbor to Neighbor Immigration Fund for donations to assist immigrants that are struggling during this pandemic due to job loss and not being privy to the stimulus package or unemployment funds. The funds are being housed in St. Mary’s Charitable Works Fund designated for this purpose.
The Neighbor to Neighbor fund has assisted several families and individuals since being created in response to the impact of COVID-19 on local immigrants. A household of 3 received assistance after the son tested positive for COVID-19 and parents were unable to work for two weeks due to quarantine. Another family with two children received assistance to help pay for groceries and rent as the father’s work was cut from 35 to 15 hours per week. A woman and her husband who are in the United States on visas as religious workers received assistance as hours were reduced due to COVID-19 and a back injury impacted his ability to work in his second job. Another woman requested and received help paying a bill to Excel Energy that was owed. Grants have ranges from $250 to $500.
The amount of people who have applied thus far has been low and yet we know the need is great! It proves to demystify the myth that the undocumented take advantage and look for handouts. Most of them are hardworking, honest people who take pride in trying to make it on their own if at all possible. The people who have applied are in dire situations and find seeking help as their only choice and are extremely grateful.
We live in a time when the dreams of many are deferred. Our immigrant brothers and sisters dreaming of a better life for their children are vilified—their dreams “dry up.” Families without healthcare and those with poorly paid jobs and long hours or working multiple jobs still do not enable them to adequately provide for their families—their dreams “sag like a heavy load.”
We join our neighbors to advance hope because they are our brothers and sisters, and their hopes and dreams are our dreams too. We join our neighbors to make this a community and a world where dreams of justice, fairness, and equity are not deferred.
As of this report a little more than thirteen thousand dollars has been donated. The funds will be used for rental assistance, utilities, food, etc. The usual amount that will be given is up to $500.00. There is a screening committee who oversees the requests.
If you would like to contribute to this fund, you can send a check to St. Mary’s Charitable Works Fund, designated for the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund. The address is 1812 Lynn Ave, Altoona Wi. 54720. The fund will remain open as long as the impact of COVID-19 is felt in the lives of our immigrant neighbors.