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We Care: Advocating for Immigrants

We Care is a diverse group of engaged citizens who desire to better understand and work to alleviate the struggles faced by immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. This group welcomes community members of all faiths, nationalities, and walks of life to join in this effort. The members of We Care firmly believe it is important to treat neighbors as we would like to be treated, regardless of political affiliation, race or ethnicity.

We Care was brought to life after a service at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Carlisle. Sermon, scriptures, music and prayers that Sunday morning in June moved a large number of attendees to gather.  They asked, “What can we do to help the refugees and immigrant families on the borders today?” Sitting idle while families are knocking on our nation’s doors asking for help after escaping poverty, terror, and persecution just isn’t Christian. Furthermore, a new Homeland Security policy that separated families with children evoked feelings of injustice among those who had gathered after the service. The group felt the urgent need to be a positive voice echoing “WE CARE” within this community.

What does the WE CARE Team do?

In an attempt to broaden understanding of the plights and challenges facing immigrants and refugees, the group decided to invite guest speakers for a community event. We Care began by reaching out to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) for support in educating ourselves and the community. This svent was a sucess, and we continnue to proudly advocate for LIRS’s initiatives and services, which have been in existence since World War II.  

We Care has also joined forces with Compass Immigration Services to help immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in a number of ways. We help financially (it costs $1100 just in form fees for each asylum application!), by helping clients fill in the numerous and comlipcated forms, and by providing household goods and other items that families need. WE CARE will host a Compass Event in April 2024 that updates and educates congregations about the current status of immigration in our area and specificallt trains people who want to bring church staff on board through Religious Workers (R-1) visas.

Again, We Care encourages community members, churches, students, etc. to collaborate or join the group at St. Paul. We can be reached through the church office (717-243-2319) or by contacting Holly Hoffman

RESURRECT: Addressing Homelessness and assisting our Apartment Ministry

In the fall of 2020, one of the WE CARE members noticed a homeless man sleeping in our church courtyard. The Holy Spirit led the Team, through meetings with Pr. Clarke, to partner with the Apartment Ministry to form RESURRECT, a volunteer and fundraising group to rehabilitate our 14 attached church-owned apartments. These are used as low-income housing but had fallen into disrepair. RESURRECT members were able to get a grants through the Partnership for Better Health and a Community Development Block Grant through the county … as well as organize dozens of volunteers. Hundreds of hours of volunteer renovation work have been put into scraping and painting exteriors, repairing exterior and interior woodwork, cleaning basements, and restoring common areas. One building (221 W. Louther) has been completely renovated because of its poor condition. Units are being repaired (especially electrical systems), and apartments are undergoing renovations as old tenants move out and new ones move in. This work is ongoing and we welcome volunteer labor and funds in order to continue to provide low-cost housing to those in need … including immigrants!

Giving Tree and Bountiful Blessings

Since 2020, the We CARE Team has also given out items that would be needed by persons facing homelessness via our “Giving Tree”. Originally the items were hung on the tree in the courtyard of the church that faces West street. Due to some problems with this system they are now given out in person during our Wednesday Evening Community Meal and through Sadler Health Center. Sadler is specifically giving out first aid kits to clients in need through their Community Health Workers.

Starting Jan. 10, 2024 we will also begin distribution of items through Bountiful Blessings. These are household items for low income housed persons. Recipients must be registered and present ID/cards at the distributions. Bountiful Blessings distributions will happen with Wednesday Night Meals on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month and Giving Tree will continue on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.

We welcome donations for either of these ministries:

For Bountiful Blessings: FULL SIZE toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish detergent, all-purpose cleaner, paper towels, bath bar soap, shampoo, trash bags, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, feminine hygiene supplies.

For Giving Tree: sample size toiletries as above, can openers, nail clippers, snack items, sock, hats, gloves, rain ponchos, hair and dental care items, sunscreen, insect repellant and other small items one might need when unhoused.

Items can be left in the church office.

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