School support. Kids have lost almost a half year of in-school learning. How can we help kids learning English catch up?
At Chambers Elementary School in Kingston a dozen volunteers staffed an after-school project each week for children in Kingston’s English-Language Learning program. When schools closed, our project was interrupted too. Now the volunteers have turned the project’s books, games, and craft supplies into gift packages to distribute over the next few weeks to the children’s homes, to supplement their homebound learning. When(ever) school resumes, we expect to revive the after-school program as well.
Debt and income. Most immigrants live paycheck to paycheck and do not have access to social insurance that kicks in with unemployment. Can we help them dig out of the debts piling up after layoffs?
Rent and housing insecurity are a particular problem. Governor Cuomo has prohibited any evictions or penalties for late payments of rent until late August, but that only postpones an awful reckoning for families who lack income after losing employment, or who must return to unsafe working conditions while the health threat remains in place.
In some cases, absentee landlords are tempted to use this emergency to empty apartments and turn properties into profitable magnets for gentrification. In other cases, local landlords are themselves threatened by mortgage holders if they do not collect rents. These are not new problems in Ulster cities, but Covid-19 has intensified them. UIDN can barely dent the problems by renegotiating rents.
Very soon, the Governor’s rental “time-out” will be over, and a new financial crisis will emerge across the state, affecting tens of thousands, including most recent immigrants. Several UIDN volunteers have begun to reach out to other organizations focusing on this issue. We will work to embrace public policy goals and social actions that truly address the problem of housing insecurity for everyone at risk in New York.
Guess what? We will need more volunteers and more financial resources, and guess again! Our volunteers and donors have been coming through magnificently.
Volunteers. It’s been an exciting month for expanding hours of volunteer time, while maintaining safe distances. Volunteers fill many diverse roles, with time commitments that can fit their needs. You may be surprised by the many different skills and interests that are useful in this work. Take a look: Volunteer at UIDN.
Contributions. Your donations boosted an increase in greatly needed services. (Details here.) We nearly tripled donation income in April, compared to all previous months of 2020. That helped mightily, as our monthly costs for supporting food and hygiene needs also nearly tripled since January, while monthly rent support increased 566%. We know these needs will grow again in the next months, and if federal immigration hearings resume, we will again have major expenses to help local immigrants get back and forth to their appointments in New York City.
So, we still need to ask. Can you help UIDN continue to expand to meet the growing human need in our own county? Perhaps you can spare a part of the stimulus money that Congress recently approved for many of us, but not for immigrants. (You can do it right here: Donate.) Though the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge it, much of the immigrant population are in fact refugees from disastrous conditions in their countries of origin. They need and appreciate our help. One family’s note is translated at right.
Institutional funding. Your record of community support has inspired significant regional funding with grants from the Episcopal Diocese of NY and the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley. This was not an accident: fund-raising volunteers substantially expanded their efforts in April, both by soliciting individual UIDN supporters and by submitting formal applications to grant-makers. We have a good story to tell in those applications, with a growing network of individual volunteers and organizational partners, and more donors to supply cash and in-kind goods to those now in need.
I want to take a minute and thank you for helping my family and I in this situation we are in right now. We appreciate your donation and can’t thank you enough!
Thank you & Stay safe!
We don’t know how the current national crisis will end. Some government and private agencies have reached out more than usual to serve our immigrant friends. We hope their concern will continue as “normal times” return.
We all need to increase opportunities for immigrants to find a place of respect and equity in our communities and before the law. But that is, unfortunately, a long journey. Stay tuned and UIDN UPDATE will report on how the journey is proceeding here in Ulster County. Better yet, come and join us, as a donor or volunteer, if you have not already.