by Joyce Hedges
The refugee accompaniment team is active again and looks forward to the congregation supporting its work of assisting a Honduran family to get settled in the East Bay.
The Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team is a partnership with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI), a statewide California organization that connects people of faith to the work of social justice. Joining our team are members of Temple Beth El, in North Berkeley, where we were housed after the great fire of 2016.
Following the Biblical imperative to welcome the stranger with dignity and hospitality, we are assisting Melissa Urquia and her two children, Keysi, 10, and baby Ashley.
The team is working with Ms. Urquia on her top three priorities—finding stable housing, arranging for education for her daughter and finding a job. Ms. Urquia was working two jobs until the pandemic’s stay-at-home order eliminated both of them.
The six-month accompaniment process has been complicated by the current pandemic. Our work is largely “virtual” with only limited opportunities to be physically present with the Urquia family.
Following the IM4HI model, the team will strive not to “fix” problems and perhaps inadvertently impose our own values. The goal is to support self-sufficiency by introducing the family to local resources.
At the same time, recognizing the formidable obstacles created by the pandemic for Ms. Urquia, First Church plans to dedicate the collection plate giving on June 7 and 14 to the Urquia family. We encourage you to be a part of this effort. The offerings on June 21 and 28 will go into Interfaith Movement’s Emergency Fund to help other newly arrived refugees. Please give generously!