Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Summer is gone. The weather is cooling off, but not the climate, not the nation’s politics, and not the challenges facing our immigrant friends here in Ulster County. UIDN volunteers continue to adapt as conditions change, and to sustain our support to families by:

  • Helping families stay current with rent and utilities and avoid unmanageable debt when moratoriums end.
  • Holding biweekly free markets as described below.
  • Initiating a reading partners program for kids in New Paltz.
  • Expanding our helpline crew to better serve callers in need.
  • Scouring the region for in-kind and financial support.

Here are highlights of our recent work and expectations for autumn.

The Free Outdoor Market

Twice monthly, from late July through October, UIDN is conducting a free outdoor market at Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Church in Kingston. About 120 families have come recent markets to access food, clothing, educational toys, and personal hygiene items. Many ask for help with other needs as well — beds, fans, cribs, strollers.

With few exceptions families walk to the market and carry home the items they pick up. UIDN has purchased shopping carts for about $20 each to make the walk home easier. We could use more carts if you can donate. The market also distributes information on the census, Covid precautions, bicycle safety, how to get access to the internet, healthcare referrals, and other community services.

Since UIDN’s food support began last spring, 230 different families have been helped in Kingston and Saugerties. New families arrive, and others drop out, in response to the impact of coronavirus on family incomes.

Colder weather will force us indoors, somewhere, in November, and the number of families we can serve will depend on three big questions: Are jobs coming back? Is a second wave of virus coming back? Will federal and/or state governments step up to help support family incomes and the budgets of non-profit providers?

To see other stories from this newsletter, click on one of the topics at the top of the orange box.

August 2020 outdoor market. Photo by Kim Touchette.

Got time? We need you.

UIDN is both volunteer-based and decentralized. We have no paid staff and our decision-making process is driven by volunteers. This month, we spotlight two big needs.

We are growing and could use some extra help from a skilled volunteer to assist with our bookkeeping and accounting. If you like numbers, consider helping UIDN keep track of the funds we raise from donations and grants and then spend to help our immigrant neighbors at this challenging time.Interested? Learn more.

Our help line volunteers are the soul of UIDN. They are the first point of contact, working to connect each caller with someone who can help — a UIDN volunteer or another agency or charitable organization in the region. Calls are automatically routed to the volunteer’s chosen number on a schedule they choose in shifts of 2 to 8 hours.

Help line operators are fluent in Spanish and trained to help callers calmly clarify their needs calmly so they can make the best referral. Currently, the most frequent calls seek help with housing and utilities or food. As ICE check-ins and immigration court hearings resume, requests for rides to NYC may increase. Details: email Suzanne Holt.

More volunteer opportunities here.