My name is Kimberly Dominguez-Barranco. I’m the Immigrant and Refugee Accompaniment Coordinator at the Church Council of Greater Seattle. I’ve experienced firsthand the negative impacts the immigration and criminal justice systems do to our communities, specifically communities of color.
I grew up always knowing it was vital for me to be discreet. I watched family members get arrested in the middle of the night, being harassed, racially profiled, and become traumatized. This was not normal, and I began questioning why we had to take precautionary measures, why every small detail was such a big deal. Making sure all brake lights worked, tabs were renewed, and parking tickets were immediately paid. Very young, I promised myself I was not going to accept a life where my community would have to keep their head down and live amongst the shadows like second-class citizens. Like we didn’t deserve to be here, or like we didn’t belong.
This work that I do I hold very close to my heart because I know we don’t deserve any of this, that my family — my people — deserve better.
Justice and liberation for immigrants requires collective power. Directly impacted Immigrants in our community called on the Church Council to launch a program of Immigrant and Refugee Accompaniment in 2017. Over and over — both before and after the pandemic hit — community leaders tell us clearly of their absolute need of accompaniment in navigating state systems. Accompaniment: whether that may be for the educational system, criminal justice and immigration system, healthcare system, housing or employment system, or needing support in navigating resources that won’t negatively impact our peoples’ immigration status.
No one knows what’s best for the community, but the community themselves. Immigrant communities asked for a volunteer network who move in solidarity in various ways — people from a range of backgrounds and faith traditions. We have done our best to create this network. Community relationships centered around values of trust, solidarity, and convivencia. We’ve been able to coordinate our network of vetted volunteers to ensure we’re providing the necessary tools and knowledge for our immigrant siblings to strive, and take leadership with confidence in whichever system they’re navigating on their own one day. 130 impacted community members have participated in accompaniment. From building infrastructure and capacity, to cultivating more leadership circles we support: building collective power has been the goal.
Time and time again from our community leaders, the message of accompaniment resounds: ¡No están solas! – You are not alone!”
Last year, in light of the pandemic, we pivoted to add more elements of direct assistance — mutual aid — to the Accompaniment Program: tending to urgent rent and food needs from what we were hearing directly from those most impacted. Along with the hotline, assistance allows community members to begin their relationship with the Church Council and collaborate together on many community projects.
This kind of work happens in other parts of the Church Council too. Local leaders gather in many circles to build collective power and address root causes of oppression. Some are locally-rooted groups organizing around housing and homelessness – transforming their cities with community power. Other circles re-imagine use of land owned by faith communities. They are cultivating communities where all people thrive and have what they need: moving money, policy, and culture toward a sacred reverence for all.
We have big dreams for this work in 2021: better stipends for community leaders; trauma-informed training for volunteers & leaders; big investments in anti-racism training & action across the Council; $24,000 more in direct aid. It adds up to $76,000 of new Church Council expenses this year.
We all have a place in this work and your support makes a difference in this movement. You are not alone. Other friends want to encourage you to join in: they made leadership gifts of $5,500 to kickstart support of this work. We are already a third of the way home to the spring goal of $16,500. Together, each sharing as we can, we can support impacted community leaders in making the changes they know are needed. Will you join us? Your gift of $17, $70, $170, or $700 will make a difference for leaders of the movement for all to be safe, all thrive & none are alone.
There is also a chance to expand your gift, to support direct assistance –mutual aid — as well as the overall work.
I strongly believe that our communities can flourish, and live life with dignity and respect. We deserve better and I want to make sure we empower and motivate our community to use their voice and create the change that is needed. Your gift supports this vision of the world as it should be. Your prayers and solidarity are part of the transformation too. We all have a place on this journey to a better future for all people.
Immigrant and Refugee Accompaniment Coordinator
P.S Do you like giving online? Check out GiveBIG on Tues, May 4 – Wed, May 5, a community celebration of generosity to support hundreds of worthy groups. Our page is https://www.givebigwa.org/church-council-of-greater-seattle, where you may pre-plan your gift today to join the celebration on May 4 and 5.
If you’d like help making an online gift for GiveBIG, please contact our Philanthropy Associate Annique Green at (206) 619-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.