At our congregational meeting in January 2020, we voted unanimously to become a Welcoming Congregation in the ELCA’s AMMPARO initiative. READ the message of welcome to Good Shepherd from the ELCA offices. AMMPARO ~ Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities.
Through Good Shepherd’s Social Action Ministries, our Immigration Justice Team began in 2019. We have been active in many ways, including helping sponsor a conference on Responding to the Humanitarian Crisis at Our Borders; organizing a series of community forums on Immigration with two other local congregations; promoting education, action, and advocacy opportunities through the ELCA and LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service), and organizing a week-long border trip to Arizona.
In addition, Good Shepherd is very active in the Chittenden Asylum Seekers Assistance Network (CASAN), a volunteer group of interfaith individuals and people of good will in Chittenden County who have come together to support people in our area who are in the legal process of seeking asylum. We welcome others to participate in this circle of welcome and support – it is a vital and rewarding ministry, as we make real, tangible differences in the lives of people seeking to begin a new, safe life in our community.
Asylum seekers, unlike refugees, are not allowed to receive many kinds of government assistance, nor are they are allowed to work until reaching a certain point in the application process. In response to an initial request for help for a mother and child, CASAN was formed as a Vermont non-profit in the fall of 2019 (now getting 501c3 status), in order to fully support this initial family for food, all living expenses, and housing until the family is able to be financially independent.
Our motto has been “Welcoming People – One Family at a Time”, and in addition to fully sponsoring one family, we have also helped numerous other asylum-seeking families in various ways: to find housing, secure furnishings for an apartment, connect with resources and make referrals, provide transportation to appointments, and advocate for them in difficult situations. With the first family on its way to financial independence, we are looking ahead to sponsoring another asylum-seeking household.
CASAN is part of a statewide network with six similar groups in Vermont to facilitate our mutual work and better assist the asylum seekers whom we accompany on their journeys.
Financial support at any level is gratefully received and appreciated. Monthly commitments are especially appreciated for budget planning.
Questions – text or call Coordinator Jan Steinbauer 802-488-4041. Find more information on CASAN on Facebook.
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