Lent is a time of inner reflection and special prayer, as well as a time to reach out. Faith in Action has chosen to focus on the theme of displacement this Lenten season and what it means to families and communities. Each Sunday during Lent, we will highlight one of the following organizations that work with displaced people: Casa de Paz, the African Community Center of Denver, and the Denver Indian Center. Collection bins for donations are in the narthex.
The last day to donate to these three organizations will be Sunday, April 2nd – Palm Sunday.
Casa De Paz
Men’s shoelaces, new men’s underwear
by Christina Foster Smith
As an attorney, I have been inside both a city jail and a medium-security federal prison. When I first visited the ICE detention facility in Aurora for a pro bono case, the similarities between being in ICE detention and a US jail or prison were striking. During the intake process, detainees’ shoelaces and belongings are taken from them (due to safety and security concerns) and they change into jumpsuit uniforms that they will wear for the duration of their time in detention. People placed in detention often are not given a clear timeline for their release. My client spent several months in detention before I received his case. If detainees are released, rather than deported, most still have to live with uncertainty for a long time – usually a year or more – as their asylum case makes its way through the judicial system. They have to find shelter and a way to support themselves (often without legal eligibility for employment), unsure whether they will ultimately be deported or allowed to stay.
Casa de Paz (Spanish for ‘House of Peace’) helps individuals released from the ICE detention facility in Aurora navigate this transition by picking them up upon release, providing them with temporary shelter and a backpack of essentials, and assisting them with logistics. The organization also helps reunite families separated by immigrant detention. HERE is a link to some of their guests’ stories.
When people are released from detention, their shoelaces are not returned to them and they are in need of basic hygiene items, such as clean underwear. This year, as part of our Lenten drive, we are collecting new men’s shoelaces and new men’s underwear for those released from the ICE detention facility in Aurora. On Friday, March 17, from 11:00-3:00 pm, we also have the opportunity to volunteer at Casa de Paz. Casa de Paz would like our help sorting and organizing their supplies. If Casa de Paz welcomes any released individuals during our shift, you may be asked to assist them with logistical matters, including booking transportation for the released individuals. A staff member will be available to assist our group with any language barriers. Please see the sign-up sheet in the Narthex or contact Pauline Nuñez with any questions.
Faith in Action Lenten Drive for African Community Center of Denver (ACC)
Linens, Towels, Bedsheets, etc…
by Nancy Gruschow
During Lent, we will collect linens for the refugee families that are resettling in apartments. Linens can include a new set of towels (bath, hand, washcloth), or a set of twin or full sheets. Drop them off in the bin at the church or you can also order and have them shipped directly to ACC through their Amazon wish list. https://www.acc-den.org/amazon-wish-list You may also order comforters or other items on this list.
If you are ordering online, remember to have sent it to their address:
African Community Center of Denver, c/o Oliver Fon,
925 Niagara St, Suite 200,
Denver, CO 80224.
Their phone number is 303-399-4500. Shipping costs may apply however some items will show “free shipping”—make sure you choose that option when you get to the “shipping” prompt. If you order online, let us know, and we’ll have a sheet in the narthex.
Denver Indian Center
King Sooper and Walmart Gift Cards
by Deb Dunn
The relationship between the tribes and the US government has been long and complex with numerous programs to try and help. A little-known “jobs program” started after World War II. The government would bus young adult tribal members to one of several western cities by offering jobs. These young adults came from reservations where poverty was high, had limited skills for jobs in an urban setting and many had never lived for any length of time in a large city. The plan was never properly organized to be successful; tribal members found few if any, services to help them gain job skills and to adjust to city living. Denver was one of those cities in which youth from several different reservations were abused. In 1970 the Denver Indian Center (DIC) was organized to address these needs. Unlike programs in the past, the DIC was organized by and is currently run by tribal members. This difference is helping to make DIC a success.
The center focuses on 1) building a sense of community among the various tribal members living in the Denver area. 2) Helping tribal members gain employment through skills training for today’s jobs, resume development and interview skills, and a placement program, 3) Health and well-being programs including a food bank and small money assistance for transportation to work sites. And 4) building a sense of community through cultural events.
The center is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of five members all of who are established business professionals in metro Denver who have strong educational backgrounds, and each one is from a different tribe. The Board members also serve as role models of how to be successful in the business world while retaining their tribal values.
The Denver Indian Center has suggested we could help by providing King Sooper and Walmart gift cards for $10 to $25 that will be given to tribal members to assist with gasoline to get to and from their job site.