by Adam Delezenne
New Hope Presbyterian Church approached us with the desire to make a direct impact on the lives of our clients. This faith community based in Southfield, Michigan, shares a deep concern for mission in communities around Metro-Detroit. They knew that we worked with some of the most vulnerable persons in the Detroit area and wanted to help..
The Pandemic has been especially hard on our clients
Immigrant communities have been hit hard by COVID-19 in a number of ways. They are less likely than others to get health care when they need it or ask for help from institutions, and less likely to get tested when they feel sick. Many of them work out of their homes in essential industries like foodservice, manufacturing, janitorial, or construction. They are most likely to be living on the edge financially, a loss of income might be catastrophic. The choice to stay home from work when you feel sick becomes very challenging when it means you can’t pay for food or rent. On top of all this, most of our clients were not eligible for relief payments from the CARES act or unemployment benefits due to their immigration status.
When the leaders at New Hope expressed a desire to help, we immediately thought of two client families in such a situation. Michel is a single mother of two. Most days she makes money for her family making tamales at home and selling them in the community for people looking for a quick lunch. The pandemic has meant that most of her regular customers were no longer comfortable buying food from a street vendor. Also an old eye injury flared up meaning she had to stop working entirely and had hospital bills to pay as well.
Lara’s family also lost income with the pandemic. Her husband, the family’s primary breadwinner, was detained by ICE in March. She has pre-existing health issues that make contracting the virus very dangerous for her. Without help, she and her three children were becoming increasingly desperate as food runs out and rent is due.
Hearing these stories, the congregation raised enough to give each family $1,300! This is money that will go to put food on the table and keep them on their landlords’ good sides. We are humbled by this church’s generosity and honored to act as the conduit for this act of ministry. Lara told us that the day she received her money, she knew her personal prayers for help were heard by God. She recognized the gift from New Hope as God’s answer.
You can help too!
There are many more than these two families who need your help!
Despite the pandemic, our clients continue to file applications for visas, work authorization permits, and green cards. Most of these applications have fees, and on October 1, most fees will increase, some dramatically. For clients without means, these fees are an incredible challenge to pay. We often help them pay their application fees or represent clients at no cost.
The Southwest Detroit Immigrant and Refugee Center provides free and low-cost legal services to those who need them most in the Detroit area, with a focus on recent immigrants and refugees.
We were founded in 2014 by Kevin Piecuch, our Executive Director