We at Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center condemn the murder of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who was strangled last week by a Minneapolis police officer. Derek Chauvin now has been charged with the killing, but we recognize that this was not an isolated incident. Racist violence against black and brown people in America is all too common. Racist policies against immigrants and people of color have become ingrained in our national fabric.
Along with people across the county, we are outraged by this profound racial injustice. We stand in solidarity with millions who demand justice and change. It is imperative that as a country, we come together to work for real change that dismantles structural racism, beginning with transparent investigations and accountability for wrongful killings and acts of brutality. It is imperative that the voices of protesters be heard without the threat of further violence.
At KIAC, we recognize the worth and dignity of all people. We believe that change starts at the local level. We work in the West Sound region on behalf of immigrants to assure justice for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or immigration status. Through our work and through our voices, we stand with members of our community who have been directly impacted by oppressive and unjust systems. And we will continue to work for change.
What an unbelievable day of generosity in Kitsap County! Because of you, Kitsap Community Foundation helped to raise $1.9 million dollars for local nonprofits like KIAC during the Kitsap Great Give. This sends a strong message that despite our current obstacles, we show up for each other.
You showed up for your immigrant neighbors in a big way. Over 300 of you contributed a whopping $57,761 for KIAC. Every gift speaks to your commitment to care for some of the most vulnerable in our community, even in a time of great challenge, and we are incredibly inspired by this!
With our must humble gratitude for your support and trust in us, we continue to provide services to our immigrant neighbors to ensure they can care for themselves in the pandemic, and thrive long beyond it.
From the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak, KIAC’s immigrant clients, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, faced immediate hardships. Our clients are part of the backbone of Kitsap County: health care workers, landscapers, agricultural workers, domestic workers, restaurant workers, caregivers, laborers, brush pickers for the floral industry. Their jobs can’t be done remotely, and most were lost under the Stay Home/ Stay Healthy order. The pressures of health and economic risks for our immigrant neighbors were immediate and relentless.
That’s when KIAC stepped in:
We immediately and seamlessly stepped up to provide our family and legal services remotely, with staff and volunteers working from home.
From the earliest days of the crisis, KIAC moved to become a central source for accurate information, launching a Spanish language Facebook page with vetted updates on COVID-19 health and financial news. Every day we answer dozens of calls from people who are in immediate need of answers, as well as essentials like food and diapers.
We have scoured the region in search of all available governmental, nonprofit, and private sector assistance for clients: Food banks. Housing assistance. Health care. We have compiled a comprehensive referral system that includes new COVID-related emergency help and have advocated for cultural and language modifications to make existing resources more accessible for immigrant clients.
We continue to represent clients in their immigration cases, meeting with clients via secure video-conferencing, text, or over the phone.
We are contacting clients who might be eligible for Stimulus payments or unemployment benefits, with accurate information and trained assistance with the process.
But in spite of our efforts, immigrants face enormous obstacles during this pandemic. Like all of us, they are trying to cope with fear of infection, the needs of their families, lost income, and the flood of information. But they are far less likely to benefit from health insurance, government benefits, or any other safety net.
Now, more than ever, our immigrant neighbors need our help.
For the first time in our history, KIAC has established an Emergency Assistance Program, to assist our most vulnerable clients who have no other options. Our focus, as always, will be to provide answers, resources, and referrals where possible. But, when hunger or homelessness is imminent, KIAC will be there to help, with food and rent assistance. Underpinned by a grant from Group Health Foundation and a private donor, KIAC is able to step up once more for our neighbors.
We need your help!
Sending our utmost gratitude and wishes for good health to you and yours.
Althea Paulson, KIAC Board President Ray Garrido, KIAC Legal Services Director Annika Turner, KIAC Family Services Director Sally Tellekson, KIAC Executive Director
Serving our sisters and brothers in the immigrant community