Three Ways to Show Care for Immigrant Communities

Immigrants are a valued part of our communities, and it’s important we do what we can to show them we care and advocate for their inclusion. We’ve been doing this through our Puentes de Esperanza program for 17 years, which helps our Spanish-speaking neighbors find the resources they need to realize the wholeness of life that God intends for them. But it isn’t only on organizations like ours to show them love. Here are concrete ways you can do it too:

Be A Good Neighbor

Throw a neighborhood BBQ and invite their families, help them buy groceries as they’re settling in, tutor them in English if they’re having a difficult time adjusting to a potentially new language or volunteer at a local nonprofit that works with immigrants and refugees, such as Puentes de Esperanza.

Get Educated

Educate yourself on your neighbors’ unique and rich experience. Ask them about their story (if they’re comfortable sharing), or go to your local library to rent books or watch a documentary or film about the lives of immigrants. Also, you can ask your local libraries, museums and community centers to consider hosting events centered around immigrant perspectives.

Advocate

Both professionally and politically, immigrants are in need of advocates. Speak up for their inclusion and rights at your workplace. Help your immigrant neighbors find jobs after settling into their new homes. Write or call your elected officials regarding immigration reform to make sure that equitable treatment is a legislative priority. Stay up-to-date on the latest policies affecting immigrants and find meaningful ways to actively support them.

 

Engaging with, supporting and advocating for our immigrants can be a rewarding and enriching experience for all parties involved because it builds community and empathy as we seek out ways to learn about people different from ourselves.

Immigrant Support Services Provided by Puentes de Esperanza

We are proud to offer a wide range of immigrant support services to our Spanish-speaking neighbors across southern Illinois. These services get immigrant and limited English-proficient families the help they need, from addressing immigrating to the U.S. to offering classes that teach them about important life skills to advocating for them through translation and interpretation services. For the 17 years that our Puentes de Esperanza program has existed for the sole purpose of helping these populations, our commitment has remained steadfast. Here are all of the services that we offer Spanish-speaking immigrants through Puentes de Esperanza.

Workshops and Education
We offer workshops and classes that cover such topics as financial literacy, healthcare rights and
parenting.

Latino Special Services Program
This program is run in collaboration with DCFS to provide interpretation and translation services during child protective investigations.

Immigrant Family Resource Program
We connect eligible families to government-provided programs and provide referrals to services relating to medicine, immigration law, education, after-school programs and disabilities as well as outreach programs and education.

Illinois Welcoming Center
As a satellite of Hoyleton, the Illinois Welcoming Center serves as a one-stop community center that provides each of our services to immigrant populations along with fostering partnerships with community resources to better serve families. Clients applying for public benefits and financial assistance, navigating health and education systems or connecting to community resources can contact us for interpretation assistance.

Community Outreach
Our community outreach provides services to families such as advocacy, education, interpretation, translation and other support.

Bilingual Therapy
We help individuals select the right options for their family regarding counseling services and connect them with our Forward therapists, who can provide the behavioral care support they need.

Interpretation and Translation Services
We offer interpretation and translation services to businesses and organizations across Southern Illinois so that they can improve their clients’ experience. Providing services in an individual’s native language creates a more welcoming community for families settling in this area.

For more information regarding Puentes, visit https://hoyleton.org/programs/hispanic-community-support/ or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PuentesdeEsperanzaHYFS

We Believe in the Power and Contributions of Immigrants

The importance of fostering diverse, caring communities.

Since the creation of Puentes de Esperanza 17 years ago, Hoyleton has demonstrated a commitment to and belief in immigrants and refugees entering our communities. And now more than ever, as America gears up to accept a portion of the half a million refugees estimated to flee Afghanistan by the end of the year, we are steadfast in our belief that all people are deserving of a caring community to call home. Despite some narratives that might suggest otherwise, these are our neighbors, coworkers and friends, and their involvement in our communities is nothing if not an asset and a blessing.

As a faith-based organization, we are committed to welcoming all our neighbors, no matter who they are or where they come from. And we know that when there is increased diversity in our communities, it only strengthens them. When immigrants feel empowered to contribute, everybody benefits from the new possibilities for dialogue, creativity and expressions of care.

We see the positive impact they make in our everyday lives through their investment in our communities. They’re our neighbors volunteering alongside us, hosting BBQs, attending religious services, watching our kids play alongside theirs. And that’s not even taking into account the $2 trillion annual contribution they make to our economy. Every day, individuals who have fled their circumstances, fighting for their lives, aiming to provide a better life for their children -- they’re the ones who are making a great, positive impact on our lives. They’re driving innovation, conducting critical research and saving lives. They are the thread that makes our neighborhoods, our communities, our cities and our nation better and stronger.

But even with all this greatness, we know they experience barriers every day. This is why it’s so important that immigrants and refugees in our communities know they belong, that they are welcomed with open arms. Without feeling integrated, they won’t feel safe enough to contribute their amazing talents. How we talk about the immigrants, how we engage with them, how we identify them, it matters, and it’s important. That’s why we’re focused on providing our immigrant and refugee neighbors with safe spaces where they know they belong, where they’re empowered to take part and where they can be their unique and authentic selves.

We are committed not only to helping immigrant families directly, but also to reversing stigmas and making sure we help change the language and narrative around their involvement in our communities. They belong. They are actively making a difference and changing lives. They are valued, loved and just as much a part of this country as anybody else.

As we welcome Afghan refugees into our country, we will be here advocating for their inclusion and full integration into our neighborhoods with open arms. It’s what we’ve been doing for immigrants for years and will continue to for years to come. Join us.

To learn more about how we help Spanish-speaking immigrants, visit our Puentes de Esperanza page.