Latinx Ministry Initiative, order your Advent Wreath, Christmas Pageant Signup and more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 22, 2020 – Available in full online here.Haga clic aquí para ver el mensaje de esta semana en español de nuestro misionero latino, Luis Valencia.
From our El Corazón Latinx Ministry Initiative
Reyna Masko, Children & Youth Coordinator and Immigrant Relief Fund Co-Faciliator
COVID-19 has tremendously impacted our community and we have seen our Latino brothers and sisters affected at high disproportionate rates.
Since April Luis, Andrea, and I have been working diligently around the clock to bring much needed aid to families across Ottawa County through the use of SJE’s Immigrant Relief Fund. This July when we hosted Misa en el Campo we found out that most of the families in the camps had been quarantined for a minimum of 14 days and had been left without pay. The families that we have been able to help through this fund have no other means of support, no access to government help and are often scared to ask for help due to language barrier or because they don’t have citizenship and they are scared that asking for help will prevent them from applying for citizenship due to the Public Charge Rule. To date we have been able to distribute $54,222.56 to families to pay for rent, utilities, car expenses and medical bills.
In June my friend Juanita Bocanegra, board member of Movement West Michigan (MWM), recommended St John’s as a partner to the organization. MWM’s mission is “Uniting Christian faith leaders to serve with humility and love for the flourishing of all in our community.” MWM along with many philanthropists and foundations established a fund that provides a $500 one time cash assistance to families throughout Ottawa County.
I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing this fund has been to many of our families. This fund was able to help the migrant families that we met in the camps make up for lost wages during the time they were quarantined. I can’t express to you the joy that it’s been to be able to tell people we have access to funds to help them stay afloat during this difficult time. I wish you could see how their faces light up when we told them they didn’t have to provide any documentation to be able to access this fund. However, one of the challenges that our families had was being able to access the money once it was available. The process had to be done via the internet, with a lot of steps to be followed and the fund’s dashboard had to be revisited a couple of times to activate the funds. This created a huge barrier for our families so Luis and I have had to spend a lot of time processing each one of those requests. However, it’s all been worth it.
We were delighted to hear that MWM had decided to do a second round of $500 cash assistance to families that still found themselves underemployed or not employed at all and that they had extended the aid to families living in Pullman, Fennville, Saugatuck, Douglas, Allegan and Hamilton. This allowed us to help families who previously had to be turned away. To date we have been able to help 114 families obtain access to $500 and 53 families were able to access the fund a second time. That is a total of $83,500 in cash assistance and a grand total of $137,722.56 along with our Immigrant Relief Fund given to families!
I am also very happy to announce that last month we received an additional $20,000 from the Holland/Zeeland Foundation COVID-19 Stabilization Grant to continue helping Families during this pandemic. This grant was received because they have seen the impact and commitment that St. John’s team has made in the lives of our most vulnerable population. We are grateful to everyone who has made this fund happen and we are committed to continue doing God’s work during difficult times.
We still have $18,000 available to help immigrants who are in need during this pandemic. If you know of any immigrants who are in need of assistance with costs related to rent, utilities, or legal needs—please share the application form with them:
And, of course, donations are always accepted to the Immigrant Relief Fund at:
It is critical for us to ensure that all of the people who call Ottawa County home receive access to the resources they need. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and the funds that we have received reflect the value that our brothers and sisters in this county have for all its residents regardless of their immigration status.
PS ~ ADVENT BOOK STUDY: All who hunger for a deeper walk this Advent season are invited to join Father Jared for a Monday Evening book study and forum. We'll be reading selections from Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ by Episcopal priest, Mtr. Fleming Rutledge (you can order the book from your local bookseller or get a copy on Amazon). The book itself is quite long and you are not required to read the whole thing. Our discussions will center around the selections related to each of the four Sundays of Advent (about 150 pages of reading over the season), with the book discussions occurring each Monday night in Advent at 8pm on Zoom. You can use your Advent & Christmas Bookmark to follow along! For more information, and to invite friends to join, see the Facebook event online here.
NOTE: Remember, due to both our County and our Region are now classed at the highest risk level possible by COVID Act Now and the Mi Start Map we remain in Phase One of our plan for ministry in the Coronavirus Pandemic. The building is closed and worship is streaming online with no attendance. Please stay safe, wear a mask, and maintain social distance from those outside your own household.
Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 22, 2020 online here.
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