A Community’s Embrace: Estefany’s Journey

Americans Making Immigrants Safe is just one part of a growing community helping make Northeast Ohio a welcoming place for immigrants and asylum seekers. We often celebrate “big wins” together when someone’s asylum case is approved, or their work permit comes through. But our board and volunteers’ daily, consistent, caring actions are the most transformative for the families we serve.

For the past two years, ten dedicated volunteers from AMIS (Americans Making Immigrants Safe) and Northeast Ohio Friends of Immigrants have taken turns providing 16-year-old Estefany safe transportation to Beaumont High School and back five days a week. When the public high school nearest her home felt overwhelming as she tried to adjust to a new country and language, the commitment of a “volunteer village” allowed this bright, hardworking student to pursue her academic dreams.

Thank you to Kate Holzheimer, Patricia Kellner, Deb Smith, Nonie Stack, Ditte Wolin, Bev Lund, Cynthia Lehman, Anne Hill, Louise Ellen Prochaska, Rachel DeGolia, and three alternate drivers, Kim Hansen, Janet Kolesar, and Mary Sickbert. Through these women, the power of community is quietly at work every day, bringing our mission to life for one young woman.

“Our missions are aligned in supporting the basic needs and human rights of immigrant families,” explained Anne Hill, President of AMIS. “Northeast Ohio Friends of Immigrants helps newly arrived families get established through volunteerism and advocacy, while AMIS provides financial support to help overcome financial obstacles and achieve stability. Together, we’re trying to fill in the gaps.”

Beyond transportation, AMIS has assisted Estefany’s family with funds for school clothes, her cell phone, and daily school lunches. NEOFI volunteers also donated household items and helped move her into a new home. “Over the years we’ve learned that it takes more than money to help newcomers establish their new home and sense of security in our country, it takes a community — caring people, relationships, connections,” said Hill. “We do our best to become that community for those we serve while putting them in touch with organizations and case managers who can provide long-term services and support.”

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