REDEDICATION OF BONITA SPRINGS AMIGOS CENTER
On August 8, 2013 Amigos Center celebrated the reopening of its newly refurbished immigration office at 25999 Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs on the campus of Hope Lutheran Church. The President of Amigos en Cristo, Pastor Bob Selle, expressed his appreciation to all those who had contributed to this very important work and thanked them for their tireless efforts to support the Amigos Center’s services to the immigrant community of Southwest Florida. Pastor Selle complimented the Amigos Center’s two Immigration Specialists, Christina Leddin and Maria Herrera and Administrative Assistant Marisol Dickerson for their excellent work in this ministry. He pointed out that during the past year the immigration staff had counseled and assisted over 1600 immigrant clients, walking beside each of these individuals as they proceeded on their pathway to U.S. citizenship. In addition, since August of 2012, the Amigos Center has filed over 390 Applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for undocumented young students and graduates who were brought to this country at a very early age by their parents or family members. These individuals who receive deferred action status can remain in this country, obtain a drivers license, a Social Security card, legally work and pay in-state tuition should they attend college.
Amigos Center’s Executive Director, Denny Brown, also expressed his appreciation to all those who have, over the past decade, so faithfully supported this important ministry in our community, both financially and with their volunteer time, and urged them all to continue their efforts as the need for compassionate and professional immigration counseling and assistance has grown so substantially in Lee county in the past years.
We recently baptized three young boys in our Bonita Springs Hispanic ministry at Hope Lutheran Church. Pastor Selle and Donna participated in the celebration meal at the parents home next to our Kingston Amigos Center.
July 21 we also received Santiago Ortegon-Rujana as a member of the Kingdom of God through the waters of Baptism. Santiago is the son of Jesaías (a member of our Board of Directors) and Eileen (our Webmaster).
Rev. Andre Mezilus (Haitian Church Pastor), Rev. Robert Selle (Executive Director/Pastor), Daphcar Beldor (Receptionist), Maria Rodriguez (Senior Volunteer), Karl Glander (Service Director). Our newest staff member is Daphcar. She arrived from Haiti ten years ago and graduated from Immokalee High School. She is a mother of two young children and serves as a Sunday School teacher with our Immokalee Haitian church.
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) World Relief and Human Care, now called LCMS International Missions, has been an important partner with our Immokalee Amigos Center work for the past two years. With the home office located in St. Louis, MO, staff have visited our Immokalee center twice and have allocated two domestic grants totaling $17,500. These grants have helped us expand our adult education program and emergency food distribution by partially funding key staff positions and program materials.
Our major accomplishments in partnership with LCMS World Relief and Human Care during this two year period include:
- Dramatically increase the number of people served by emergency food and clothing distribution (150% increase over previous years);
- Help develop the number of Hispanic and Haitian volunteers who help provide services to residents of Immokalee.
- Increased our capacity to provide English classes for Haitian and Hispanic adult immigrants;
- Help illiterate Mexican and Guatemalan women learn to write their own name;
- Develop our first “Leadership Development” course for a group of Spanish speaking women.
Our Hispanic and Haitian volunteers in Immokalee treated the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Cape Coral, to a special Advent meal on Wednesday, December 5. Over 70 people enjoyed the home made food. Pastor C. J. focused the mid-week Advent worship service that night on Christmas traditions of Mexico and Haiti. We see in these meals the unity of the body of Christ and an image of the celestial banquet that awaits us in Christ.
The Haitian women from our Immokalee Lutheran Church did a great job last night preparing an authentic Haitian meal for more than 100 people at Grace Lutheran Church, Naples. This effort goes a long way to express the unity of the body of Christ among all believers and all nations. Thank you.
Maseca was flying off the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Inc. truck during a Saturday distribution at Amigos Center in Immokalee! Countless volunteers from Our Savior Lutheran Church and School made a trip from St. Petersburg and partnered with Amigos Center local volunteers to make this a success. Hundreds of families received 50lbs of Maseca, a staple in many households. What a tremendous event! Thank you to all who made this possible!
Our food distribution continues to be a strong ministry as we continue to partner with Harry Chapin who recently sent us over 42,000 pounds of corn meal to allow this event to happen. This is a staple that is used for tamales and tortillas in the Latino community while the Haitian community also makes a soup with it. Although our funds are low, through Harry Chapin Food Bank we can continue to provide the much needed food for the people of Immokalee. We can always use donations of small bottles of oil and also lard.
Pastor Selle speaks on the topic of immigrants being an easy target for scamming and fraud in the wake of a new ID scam.
Last Sunday the Bonita Church held a church picnic to fellowship together and as a back-to-school celebration. We played water and indoor games. The children were absolutely thrilled to receive these gifts. Even the babies picked out their favorite ones. Smiles galore! Thank you to Diane Kral who donated more than ten boxes of stuffed animal of all sizes.
Over 30 children attended our Vacation Bible School this summer! The Sonrise National Park theme that Covenant Church of Naples brought to Immokalee was a delightful way to point children to Jesus! We are so blessed to have had this opportunity to provide something so great to the children of Immokalee. Thank you Covenant Church and the countless volunteers who made this possible as well as our dedicated staff in Immokalee.