In July, the Immigration Legal Services (ILS) program offered DACA renewal services for the first time to over 60 individuals through volunteer-staffed workshops.
In 1998, Brandon Vega Ayala came to the U.S. at the age of two. His mother decided to flee an abusive relationship and her family saved the money to help her and her son cross the border without authorization. In doing so, Brandon became one of the so-called "DREAMers," or undocumented youth brought into the country as young children.
In his early years in the U.S., Brandon moved often around the Sacramento area with his mother. They eventually established themselves in the Rosemont area and he attended Hiram Johnson High School. "My mom told me I had to be careful, that I didn't have papers," Brandon explained. He participated in numerous clubs and sports in school, but his lack of status thwarted his dreams. "I planned to join the U.S. military, but my immigration status prevented me from enlisting."
When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was announced in 2012, Brandon was a sophomore. The new program provided protection from deportation and a work permit that was renewable every two years. He filed for DACA and has renewed it ever since.
Today, Brandon lives a full life, in part owing to his DACA protections. Last December, he married Paulina, a friend from high school. He works 50 hours a week at a grocery store while taking college classes on the side to complete programs in business management and electrical engineering.
On June 20th, World Relief Sacramento was pleased to partner with the Sacramento Republic FC and the Office of Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a community-wide World Refugee Day celebration. Together we paused to commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of the refugees within our region and to celebrate Sacramento’s response to the global refugee crisis.
We anticipated the day would be, “an opportunity for both the Sacramento community and the refugee community to enjoy an evening filled with family fun and illustrate how we are better together,” commented Kerry Ham, Executive Director of World Relief Sacramento. However, we could not have predicted the story of Ghazwan Fadhil and Ahmed Khayyafi.
We hosted a volunteer appreciation block party, transforming the nondescript alley behind our office into a festive space decked out with string lights, gold confetti, balloons and colorful table settings. In addition to his official Director title, Kerry Ham was also the event’s unofficial grill master. He spent most of the day preparing chicken and steak for the 100+ staff and volunteers in attendance. In case you have not seen our office map, our staff hails from all over the world. So naturally, the menu was a potluck style international feast. Afghan musicians entertained our guests, children played corn hole and other outdoor games, and most importantly, staff were able to express their appreciation for and connect with volunteers.
Volunteering at World Relief is a unique experience. Good Neighbor Team volunteers, for example, commit to walking alongside and supporting refugee families for six months. During the block party, we had an open mic session where volunteers shared stories about working with refugee families, and most of these stories were less about the ways they helped our clients and more about the ways our new refugee neighbors changed their lives.
Thank you, volunteers! For the countless miles you have logged taking our clients to appointments, for the late night airport pickups to welcome our families, for your donations that help us furnish apartments, for opening up your homes, for your time, energy and support. We could not do our work without you!
Proximity to employment can influence a range of economic and social outcomes, from local fiscal health to the employment prospects of residents- particularly low-income, minority workers and especially newly arrived refugees yet to gain a drivers license or car.
As simple as it sounds, a bike can help find and sustain employment, cut trips to the grocery store in half, get to medical care or access city resources—all vital things, and all so easy for those who have a means of transportation to take for granted. Biking also offers physical and mental wellness benefits to a community where both are rare.
Navigating public transportation in any new city can be daunting and Sacramento is no exception. Which is why we at World Relief Sacramento are proud to partner with locals and like-minded individuals and organizations like Cycles4Hope.
This past May, World Relief Sacramento launched a new employment program for recently arrived refugee families. A successful employment program will work to see families not simply surviving, but thriving in their new home. To do this, we will work to employ refugees at jobs that ensure self-sufficiency and career development as an alternative to traditional social services. In the four months we have offered this program, we have already assisted nine individuals obtain employment! These nine individuals each have their own families and represent forty recently arrived refugees who are on their way to self-sufficiency.
In order for a program like this to be successful, we need your support! In an effort to empower and welcome refugees to Sacramento, we would like to ask for your donations. Items such as computers, bicycles, and desks will directly impact these families and aid in their journey toward self-sufficiency. Each item donated to this program will be matched monetarily and, in turn, assist families in paying their rent and utilities, allowing them to focus on their job search.
If you have items you would like to donate, please contact Tim Knight, our Housing & Donations Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the program and how you can be involved, please contact Becca Brown, our Match Grant Manager, at email@example.com.
Items that we need and that apply to this program.
Absolutely stunning images and story on the Rohingya minority, one of the most persecuted groups in the World. From National Geographic
Where do you go if your sister in your home country is being persecuted for her faith? If a teenage son who left his family behind to escape harm is now stranded in Europe while the rest of the family has been resettled to the U.S.? When you’re a first-generation immigrant and you want to take steps toward becoming a U.S. citizen?
You need trusted legal advice, and World Relief Sacramento is now here to offer it.
My name is Ted Oswald and I joined World Relief Sacramento in March as a managing attorney to launch a more comprehensive Immigrant Legal Services (ILS) program. At ILS we are working alongside our refugee resettlement colleagues and dramatically expanding our services through hiring full-time staff and placing a new emphasis on engaging volunteers from churches to better serve Sacramento’s diverse and growing immigrant population.
This exciting work reflects World Relief’s mission of empowering the local church to serve the most vulnerable, helping families, communities, and our country thrive.
Here’s how we do it, and how you can get involved.
By the Numbers – This is incredible. Sudan and South Sudan fought the longest civil war in Africa (21 yrs.), forcing the secession of the South to form the world's newest nation and yet who was once an enemy is now hosting an estimated 1.2 million South Sudanese refugees.