Saturday, February 21, 2009

Forum: How To Help Immigrants

This forum in Virginia has been discussing how to help immigrants in their community. If these immigrants are succeeding in their life here, it will help the whole community. DP

Participants hope for more community involvement.

By Bonnie Hobbs

Efforts to help the local immigrant community, and discussions about what’s still needed, were the topics of the latest meeting of the Centreville Immigration Forum. It was held last Tuesday, Feb. 3, at Centreville Baptist Church.

Barb Shaiko, director of missions at Centreville United Methodist Church (CUMC), spoke about the Grace Ministries program her church offers, the second Saturday of each month. It provides Hispanic immigrants with emergency food, clothing and diapers, plus healthcare and spiritual guidance, and Shaiko said the response has been overwhelming.

"In January, 195 families — about 700 people — came," she said. "Most are coming from Centreville, Chantilly, Herndon, Reston, Manassas and Manassas Park, plus some from Fairfax and Alexandria. In our area, 95 percent [of those we help] are Latino immigrants."

Shaiko said CUMC is buying food from the Capital Area Food Bank, and CUMC’s Joe Gillen said Panera, Starbucks and Manhattan Bagel have also contributed food items to Grace Ministries.

Alice Foltz of Wellspring United Church of Christ, which sponsored the forum, said that, when she visited the ministry recently, she saw there was "a need for clothing." Said Gillen: "We especially need medium to small clothing for the men."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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