Dear Friends of UIDN,
In early March, a fire broke out in a rented home in Kingston. It left two asylum-seeking families homeless. One of the children, Eduardo, is a second-grader in a local public school where children from diverse backgrounds are taught to respect each other and build a caring community.
Sad and worried in the wake of the fire, he told his teacher, and she invited him to share his story with his classmates. They were shocked to learn that their friend and his family had lost their home and household goods, that there had been some injuries, and that Eduardo had no idea when or whether his life would return to normal.
The children showered Eduardo with expressions of sympathy, offers to share their own possessions, and an outpouring of letters telling him that they loved him and wished him well. Meanwhile, UIDN mobilized to bring the families emergency support.
For the next few days, the families were helped to temporary quarters and given household items to replace those lost in the fire. The house was repaired so that it could be re-occupied, and financial assistance enabled Eduardo’s family to get back home.
A week later, Eduardo raised his hand at his class’s morning meeting and asked if he could tell how his family was managing. Again, the students were empathic, repeating offers of material help. Mostly, they were relieved to know that Eduardo would be all right and that adults in their community had risen to the challenges that surpassed their own seven-year old capabilities.
Building a caring community
When we first formed Ulster Immigrant Defense Network (UIDN), we were not always sure just what would need to be done. Two years on, we are still learning – stretching to understand and meet the needs that present themselves. During this time, UIDN has helped families grapple with challenges from ICE and a hostile national administration.
We have provided transportation to ICE check-ins and hearings, worked with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson to successfully advocate for municipal IDs, and advocated with the Worker Justice Center of New York for driver’s licenses for immigrants – a state policy withdrawn after 9/11. We also work with local school districts, religious congregations, and the Ulster Literacy Association.
It was only natural that UIDN’s Family and Household Support Team was there in the wake of the house fire to help the families get back on their feet, just as Eduardo’s classmates helped him. Thanks to the financial support UIDN receives from our supporters, we were able to help, and Eduardo was able to show his classmates that they live in a caring community.
UIDN hopes this is a lesson the students can count on in the coming years.
The Ulster Immigrant Defense Fund operates as a 501(c)(3) public charity under the auspices of Holy Cross/ Santa Cruz Episcopal Church. Contributions are tax deductible. Online donations can be made here.
Checks may be mailed to Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church 30 Pine Grove Avenue Kingston, NY 12401, payable to Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church; please note UIDN on the memo line.
Thank you in advance for your generosity,
Father Frank and UIDN’s Coordinating Committee