We recently recognized ten people who provide volunteer services at our Immokalee Amigos Center with a special luncheon. Pictured with Pastor Selle are ten of the many volunteers who provide English classes, literacy classes, emergency food, used clothes, administrative and janitorial services. They volunteer at least one day a week. Because of their faithful service, all were given official Amigos Center shirts. Next time you come to the Immokalee Amigos Center, give a special thank you to our staff and volunteers.
One client recently wrote an email to Pastor Bob Selle, Executive Director of Amigos Center, as a follow up to an October 2010 inquiry about Amigos Center Immigration services.
Dear Pastor Bob,
Just wanted to share with you…My citizenship was approved and I had the oath ceremony to receive my citizenship last week Tuesday April 12th in Tampa, FL! The ceremony was great. Most everyone had tears in their eyes. 504 people became citizens from 85 countries! So now I am no longer a “foreign alien with permanent residence”, but an American citizen! Christina was wonderful. Professional, yet very encouraging throughout the process!
THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
The joy this client is experiencing wouldn’t be possible without the friends of Amigos Center who faithfully support the work here in changing lives and changing our community. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
On April 4th, the United Way Allocation Team made a visit to the Amigos Center in Bonita Springs. Thank you to the staff and Board who were there to represent the ministry. We thank all of those who serve as volunteers on allocation committees for United Way. United Way supports our Immigration Ministry each year with a grant of $30,000. To be a proud partner agency of United Way, we undergo a lot of checks and balances, assuring both the United Way and the community that funds are being used to change lives. We are thankful to be a partner agency of the United Way.
On Thursday March 31st, Amigos Center worked with Harry Chapin’s Mobile Food Pantry to deliver food to over 235 families for a total of 958 people at our Immokalee center. The Mobile Food Pantry program has allowed Harry Chapin and their partner agencies such as the Amigos Center to reach children and families in many rural and underserved areas. Amigos Center is truly grateful for the partnership and collaborative efforts with Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Leonardo Garcia, Founder and President/CEO of the Hispanic American Business Alliance (HABA) has been a long time supporter of Amigos Center and is currently active on the board of directors for Amigos Center.
HABA was interviewed by the News-Press for comments on the U.S. Census regarding Hispanics in SW Florida. You can click the photos to enlarge the article.
Also, thank you to all the members of HABA who attended our 3rd Annual Friends of Amigos Lunch — Seeds of Hope.
All days are busy, yet Thursday, March 31st was an especially busy day filled with lots of life-changing appointments. In the morning I did two naturalization cases (applying for U.S. citizenship). Both clients were from Mexico and had been our clients for a number of years and we did the paperwork on both cases to get their green cards. Both were extremely excited to apply for U.S. citizenship – the ultimate goal of an immigrant.
In the afternoon I saw a woman from the Dominican Republic who had entered the U.S. in 2005 with her immigrant visa (green card) based on the filing of her U.S. citizen sister in 1991. In 2005 Amigos Center filed for her adult son who had remained behind in the Dominican Republic due to falling out of his USC aunt’s case due to his age. Last Thursday the Dominican mother was filing the final paperwork with the Department of State so that her son will finally be able to get his interview in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to then enter the U.S. with an immigrant visa/green card and join his mother, father, and younger sibling.
After that I saw a woman from the United Kingdom who had been in the U.S. since she was 9 years old on a work visa through her parents. The work visa had just expired and her parents and younger sibling will be returning to the United Kingdom. The young woman had married a U.S. citizen and so I filed all the paperwork (6 applications in total) to get her a work permit and then her green card through the marriage. I explained to her that then she will be able to apply for naturalization in a little less than 3 years from getting the green card and then she can apply for her parents and sibling to come back to the U.S.
Finally I saw a 16 year old Mexican girl who had been brought into the U.S. as a young child and she now has her immigrant visa/green card appointment in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in a few weeks. I had been working on the case since 2005. I prepared the final paperwork for her and her green-card holding father to take to the interview in Mexico. She should be back in the U.S. within a week with her green card.
United Way has once again reached their campaign goal of $8,024,330 under the direction of campaign chairwoman, Pat O’Donnell. Pat O’Donnell is also an active member of the Amigos en Cristo Board of Directors.
Amigos Center is a proud partner of United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades, who generously contributes $30,000 annually to help support the Immigration ministry of Amigos Center.
At the goal announcement O’Donnell said, “I am thrilled to announce that the United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades has reached its campaign goal for the 18th consecutive year!
“Our generous community has done it again! Despite the difficult economy, you dug deep to give what you could to help our friends and neighbors who are hurting, out of work, or ill. In the toughest economy that we have faced in many years, you gave so others could look forward to a better life. I am so proud of our community.
“What is more important than the fact that we made our goal is that the 72 United Way Partner Agencies will receive their full allocation of funds. The needs in our community have increased significantly in these troubled times. Many agencies have lost funding from both government and private sources. United Way Partner Agencies’ 160 programs will be fully funded and hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens will receive the help they need.
“Thank you to all of the individuals, companies, communities and partner agencies for your generous contributions. You proved once again what a caring community this is.”
We value education and training leaders to be equipped to serve in their community.
Amigos Center Social Service Coordinator, Marcela Rice, has designed a four month course to inspire and prepare farm workers to participate in leadership opportunities in their community, their schools and their churches. This course began in January and will finish with a graduation in May.
Christina shared that last Friday, at 5:30, she was getting ready and packing up to go home. The door was propped open for the cleaning lady and in strides an immigration client. Thinking to herself how to gently send him home, since she was all packed up and ready to leave, he smiles at her and thanks her for the immigration work she did for him and his family four years ago. He hands her $30 and tells her it’s not much but he is so thankful for the work of the Amigos Center and he is finally in a position to give back and wants to do what he can to help Amigos Center help more people. It was a great way to start the weekend.
Each month the Department of State sends out a visa bulletin showing the visa processing dates for different family relationships and countries. Depending on the relationship and country, clients can wait months to decades to get their green cards. Usually visa processing dates move forward in time or remain the same, but sometimes dates go back in time (retrogressing). The retrogression can affect when a client can file for the green card or get the green card.
When the January 2011 visa processing dates were released in mid-December 2010, Amigos Center realized that we had a young man in his final year of high school that only had days to submit his green card case or possibly have to wait many more years to file. Filing his case by December 31 meant him being able to get a work permit, social security number, driver’s license, and go to college. His family scrambled to get all the necessary documents/fees. With the help of Amigos Center, the young man was able to get the case properly submitted to immigration by the December 31 deadline. Happily his case is now progressing and he is currently waiting for his work permit.
Toward the end of January 2011 Amigos Center noticed that processing times for sibling cases were going to retrogress over two years as of February 1, 2011. We had two siblings that had submitted their green card cases last fall and both were scheduled for interviews with Tampa immigration for early February 2011. We quickly contacted Tampa to see if their interviews could be scheduled for January when the visa was still available. Tampa was able to see both clients on January 31 and both clients got their green cards. If the clients had not been seen until February, they would have been pending for many more months or years. Both clients called Amigos Center after their interviews to give a big thank you. After years in the U.S., they can now hop on a plane to visit their family in their native country and they are now in line to be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.