Since May of 2020 we have hosted 8 individuals or families at Kehilla in our guest suite. They have been with us for a total of 101 days!
Our last two guests were both young men from Venezuela who both fled very difficult situations and experienced harrowing journeys to the US. Both ended up at a shelter in San Antonio, Texas and were brought to the Bay Area by the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity’s Nueva Esperanza program. They each needed a place to quarantine, rest and regroup while their teams organized housing for them.
Numerous Kehilla volunteers helped to make our guests’ stays comfortable by providing meals, clothing, walks, visits, doing laundry, taking our guests grocery shopping, helping one to get a haircut, arranging COVID testing and vaccines, and even finding some work opportunities. One guest was able to move on to his new home with a donated bicycle, helmet, lock and basket!
Noel, who was with us during the first 12 days of October, is now settled with his host family in San Francisco and is being accompanied by a joint team of volunteers from Congregation Sherith Israel and the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin. He is doing well and has already found work opportunities.
Angel moved out of Kehilla last Wednesday, after 3 weeks as our guest, and is being accompanied and hosted by the Marin Interfaith Council. When Angel first arrived in mid-October he was reluctant to go outside on his own, but by the time he moved out he was independently taking the bus to nearby cities for appointments and to look at housing options.
Each of our guests arrives with unique history and varied needs and challenges. We try to meet them where they are and to offer care and comfort during their brief respite as our guest before they move on to the next phase of their long journey.
Hosting 8 sets of guests has been an incredible accomplishment, especially considering that we are still in a pandemic! So far, sixty-five volunteers, along with Kehilla staff and Sanctuary Task Force members, have participated in making this effort go smoothly. We are so grateful for everyone’s contributions! We are also thrilled to be working in collaboration with other community organizations and congregations that are doing important immigration justice work.
We hope to recruit more volunteers, as we are anticipating more guests in the upcoming months. If you haven’t been involved but would like to learn more, or if you know of other Kehilla members who might be interested in participating, contact: email@example.com. We also welcome any questions or feedback.
-Sanctuary Task Force Members
Anna Martin, Carolyn Schour, Catherine Lyons, Julie Litwin, Penny Rosenwasser