The all-volunteer Santa Cruz Welcoming Network provides comfort and support for people who seek asylum & refuge. Our volunteers connect personally and accompany our new neighbors as they navigate challenges such as: Immigration Court, shelter, health care, and work. We find resources that support their goals and healing from trauma. We are committed to the truth that every human being is worthy of a safe place to live and thrive.
Imagine leaving everything you know, including some of your family, followed by a terrible trek that may have included deprivation, kidnappers, or detention, and you’re finally safe in America. A strange country, a different language, not permitted to work until your immigration court case allows.
With perseverance, refugees and asylum-seekers — many from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Central America — made their way here. We’re an all-volunteer group, so your donations go to each families’ needs. Our three-year-old Welcoming Network forms teams to work alongside each family and assist them to find housing, jobs, public schools for their children, and advocate for their immigration case.
We believe that integrating our new neighbors into our community positively impacts us all. We spend about one year per family, begin with an initial needs assessment, organize a team of volunteers with experience or confidence in the areas of need, and assist in finding the necessities the family has identified as critical.
As the state senator from the Central Coast, I hear stories of immigrants fleeing from violence. I know that it is not just having resources, it is having the ability to connect refugees in a new and unfamiliar land to those resources. Decades ago, when tens of thousands of Cubans came to the US in boats, I sponsored one. He lived with me until he learned English and made his way. I recall those first days, when a supermarket was a foreign experience, where language was a barrier, where the opportunities for help were nothing that would have been known to him on his own. For all those reasons, I support the efforts of Santa Cruz Welcoming Network. I hope you will find a way that you can support the volunteers who are giving of their time – and in some cases, resources – to make Santa Cruz a welcoming environment.
John Laird, California State Senator, 17th District