Host a Casa de Paz Volunteer Training

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We are looking for locations to hold our volunteer trainings in 2020! We so soo soooo appreciate people opening up their doors to us so we can train volunteers to reunite families separated by immigrant detention.

If you would like to host a training please click here and fill out this form to let us know which month(s) we can hold our event at your location: https://forms.gle/En2883FBkXNqJbKNA.

Our volunteer trainings are always the first Saturday of every month. The time we need access to the room (including set up//clean up time) is 12:15pm - 3:30pm.

Below are the items needed in the training room:

- Chairs for 50 people

- Two tables for check in and t-shirt sales

- WIFI

It would be nice to have (but not required):

- Projector

- Projector screen

- Speakers

Thank you for inviting our community into your space!

Gifts Given by Casa de Paz Guests

Some of y'all have been to our home and others have not. (Btw if you're close to the Casa and wanna swing by one day please lmk!)

For those of you who have never been inside our hospitality home, let me share a special part of our home with you. We have a shelf in our basement that is dedicated to the gifts that Casa de Paz guests have given us as a sign of their appreciation.

These aren't just gifts for me, or others living at the Casa, to enjoy. They're for all of us who keep the doors of Casa de Paz open (yes you!). So I just wanted to let y'all see them, too:)

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

PS. A special thanks to our volunteer, Leslie, for taking this video.

A picture drawn by a detained immigrant

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A guest at Casa de Paz showed us this picture he drew while he was locked behind the bars of the immigrant detention center in Colorado.

This picture makes me feel so so many emotions all at once.

...my heart hurts because I see a sad, lonely person feeling hopeless.

And

...at the same time I feel extremely humbled and proud to be part of the Casa family that does everything we can to remind immigrants they are welcome in this country.

A few months ago I heard a quote. I'm sorry I can't remember the exact words but the main idea was, There's a difference between 'You are welcome here' and ''This was created with you in mind'.

The hope of my heart and soul is that when men and women released from the immigrant detention center are welcomed into the Casa, they know that not only do they belong here, but that our home was created specifically with them in mind.

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

PS. A special thanks to our volunteer, Hillary, for taking this picture.

Play Volleyball and Keep Casa de Paz Open!

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Did you know that when Casa de Paz opened up seven years ago I alllllmost had to close it down a few months later because I didn't have any more money in my savings account? I needed money and I needed it FAST so I could pay our rent.

Out of desperation (ha!) I decided to open up Volleyball Internacional -- a league people could play in and at the end of the season whatever profit we had would be donated to the Casa so we could pay our bills.

Well... thankfully it worked YES! Six years later we still play year-round, get great exercise, make new friends AND keep the doors of our home open. Registrations for our new season are now open! My sister, her boyfriend, my boyfriend and I are all gonna play so hopefully we'll see you on the court!

- Gym address: 3899 North Jackson St, Denver (i70/Colorado)

- Wednesday or Thursday nights

- Beginner, intermediate and advanced divisions

- Seven week season with tournament and prizes

- $45/player

- Game times: 7:15pm, 8:15, 9:15 or 10:15

- Click here to register a full team or as a free agent and we'll find you a team

Families belong together,

Sarah J


Jorge Celebrates His Birthday at Casa de Paz

There are so many things I love about this video of a birthday celebration in our hospitality home.

- How happy Jorge is to be released from immigrant detention just in time to eat birthday cake.

- How everyone in the room joined in on the celebration. Moments before they were strangers (emphasized by the part where he has to remind everyone of his name haha!) and now they're celebrating together.

- At the end, the woman starts in on a traditional birthday song from her country and at first people in the kitchen are a little confused because they had never heard it before. But then they tried to join in with her. And everyone was smiling.

Warms every part of my heart completely. And... I just wanted to share this moment with all y'all.

Es todo:)

Sarah J

PS. A big thanks to superstar volunteer, Leslie, for taking this video!

Intern Mauricio and Sarah Jackson

Intern Mauricio and Sarah Jackson

Mauricio, a bright young man from Beloit College, completed his internship at Casa de Paz a couple of weeks ago. During one of his first days spending time with guests who were released from the immigrant detention center he wrote a reflection called "Conversation with Gerardo."

I've read it several times and each time it gets harder and harder because it seems like I can feel a little bit more of what Gerardo painfully endured to make it to the USA.

Thank you, Mauricio, for spending time with Gerardo, listening to his story and giving him your undivided attention. Thank you for reminding us that time is a precious gift that we can all give to one another. I know Gerardo will always remember the time y'all spent together.

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Conversation with Gerardo
Dear Gerardo,

Thank you for telling me about your journey from Honduras to the U.S border, and eventually the privately owned GEO concentration camp in Denver where you spent the last four months at where, “anyone could lose their mind.” I appreciate the conversation we had in the hot but refreshing Colorado sun behind Casa de Paz. When I asked you how it felt to be out of “La Hielera” (the icebox) you said it felt free, but weird. Free, but weird.

The shade from the house and the refreshing wind helped a lot. Sorry all but two of the guards were jerks. After you told me about the beautiful snow you got to see from the windows a few months ago, I was shocked to find out the guards blocked off the windows, eliminating everyone’s only view to the outside. My blood ran warm when you told me most of the guards pretended not to understand Spanish when you or your detained peers needed favors, but definitely understood Spanish when the guards were insulting and ignoring people’s plights, and then locking people up in isolation to protect their own egos.

I wasn’t sure what to talk about after a few minutes or what might even be appropriate to ask, but then you just started sharing your journey, so thank you again. I’m sorry your brother lost his life on the way to the border. You told me it really hurt because you talked to him a lot and passed the time on the way here. You told me the train in Mexico killed him and that the church nearby helped you deal with the terrible ordeal. You told me you were fine and the priests helped you emotionally. You were “fine” even though you told me that you do not like to talk about the issue because it disturbs you still. I knew you were fine not because you came to terms with everything and felt happy, but because you felt like you were losing your mind and you must be fine to survive.

You continued and told me about how repetitive and mind numbing time in detention feels. People talk, write, draw, or exercise to “stay sane.” People wake up at around 5:00am, eat the same breakfast, most go back to sleep, then food again, then more waiting, then more dull and non-nutritious food, and then sleep in the awful beds, or the cold floor.

Although the last couple of months were hell, you were excited for what is yet to come. I can’t wait for your sisters to receive you in their homes. Your older and younger sisters both have families. It will definitely be overwhelming, but heartwarming when your family is finally reunited. Hopefully that weird feeling of freedom will go away sometime and you will just feel, free.

Saludos,
Mauricio

When A Casa Guest Feels Like A Movie Star

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Last week I got a text from Nick, one of our Companion volunteers. He told me that he was able to pick up a gentleman who was released from the immigrant detention center, bring him to the Casa, coordinate travel logistics so he could get home and then took him to the airport.

Something a little unusual happened at the airport, though.

Nick told me that several people stopped our guest to take a picture of the shirt he was wearing. At first he was a little taken aback by all the people wanting his photo (was he a movie star maybe?! lol).

Then Nick explained to him the Casa shirt he was wearing displayed, "When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher wall" and how that's what the Casa community believes in.

This is a simple story, and one that brings a smile to my face. Not only we were able to welcome this guy to the USA, but now he's also proudly wearing a phrase that truly reflects the Casa heart.

Oh, and here's my shameless plug. We will have these shirts for sale at our Happy Hour fundraiser this Thursday! They're $20 and the profit is used to pay our rent. Come join us -- a portion of all the beer you drink on Thursday will be donated directly to the Casa woohoo!!

Date: Thursday, August 8
Time: 6pm - 9pm
Location: Cervecería Colorado
Address: 1635 Platte St, Denver, 80202

Families belong together,

Sarah J

Link Your King Soopers Card to Casa de Paz and We'll Earn Money!

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If you're a King Soopers shopper, then link your Soopers Card to Casa de Paz. Every time you shop, Casa earns money!

King Soopers Community Rewards makes fund-raising easy...all you have to do is shop at King Soopers and swipe your Sooper Card (or enter Alt ID)!

Link your card online today!

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Log in at KingSoopers.com
2. Click "My Account" under your name (located at top right side of screen)
3. Click "Community Rewards" (located at left side of screen)
4. Search for Casa de Paz's code: BL285

That's it - super simple!

We'll use money earned to welcome men and women released from the immigrant detention center in Aurora into our hospitality home.

Taking Away Shoelaces From Detained Immigrants

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Seven years ago when I opened up Casa de Paz I began noticing something odd. Most of the guests who stayed in my home after their release from immigrant detention had one thing in common -- they had no shoelaces.

My curiosity prompted me to begin asking the men and women what had happened to them. Their answer stunned me. Here's what I heard over and over and over and over again.

"They took away our shoelaces because so many people tried to hang themselves with them."

Can you imagine conditions so deplorable that you want it all to end and you look at your shoelaces as a way to escape the torture?

We had hundreds of shoelaces in our guest bedrooms at the Casa so people could once again remember the feeling of tying their shoelaces.

Our stockpile of shoelaces has dwindled down to zero. Friday we gave away our last two pairs. If you would like to buy a guest shoelaces you can visit our Target Gift Registry and order some. They'll be sent directly to the Casa and given to those whose shoelaces were removed and never given back. Click here to take a look at our Target Gift Registry: http://www.target.com/gift-registry/gift/casadepaz

It's the simple things in life right? :)

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J


More and more guests

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We've been hosting more and more guests at Casa de Paz recently!

I'm not completely positive, but I believe part of the reason more folks are being released is because the detention center recently expanded their contract with ICE for how many people they are locking up. It's around 1,500 immigrants, which means eventually more people will also be released. 

To put this in perspective, here are a few numbers to compare:

Guests hosted in April, 2019: 103 (that's EIGHTY more guests than last April!!!)
Total number of guests who have stayed at the Casa: 2037
Total countries we've hosted guests from: 30 

Our volunteers have showed up BIG TIME providing exceptional hospitality with such love and compassion it's overwhelming to witness. The Casa is full of such joy and beauty each night and it's all possible because of our volunteer team.

If you're already a volunteer and want to sign up to help, please click here for a list of opportunities. If you're not a volunteer and are interested in joining our team, we hold volunteer trainings on Saturdays and our next one is June 8 from 1pm - 3pm @ Highlands Church. Click here to RSVP and save your spot. 

At the end of the evening the volunteer in charge of the night sends me an update text filling me in on how the night went. This screenshot was sent to me by our superstar volunteer, Molly. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did! 

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With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Daddy!! Daddy!!

A while back we hosted a lovely family in our hospitality home. But something was not quite right. They weren't all together... not yet at least. 

The father was locked behind immigrant detention center bars, separated from his beloved wife and two precious daughters. The wife and daughters stayed at Casa de Paz a couple of times as they drove in from out of town to visit him and be present for his day in immigration court. 

Thankfully one day he received the good news, "You're going to be released."

We waited for our volunteers to pick him up from the detention center and anxiously awaited his arrival. And then it happened. We heard him walking up sidewalk and the girls just started screaming, "Daddy!! Daddy!!" and ran into his big, open, outstretched arms.

THIS is the moment we live for. THIS is the world we believe in. THIS is Casa de Paz.

Families belong together,

Sarah J 

Celebrate Oliver's birthday and Casa's birthday with us!

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Let's celebrate Casa de Paz turning seven years old by... playing table tennis!

Many of you know Oliver, a former Casa de Paz guest. Some of you know he now lives at the Casa taking care of our guests.

What you might not know about him is he is a champion table tennis player! No, seriously he is -- click here to read this news story about him.

April is also Oliver's birthday month so we decided to combine both Oliver's birthday and Casa's birthday into one big party. We invite you to join us, play table tennis, eat delicious food, drink tasty drinks, cheer on players and have a blassssst with us!

  • Date: Saturday, April 27

  • Time: 2pm - 5pm

  • Location: Ace Eat Serve

  • Direction: 501 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

Appetizers will be served and your first drink is on us!

Click here to RSVP.

Claim your FREE ticket movie ticket for Casa de Paz's 7th Birthday party!

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CASA DE PAZ'S 7th BIRTHDAY PARTY

It's not a joke! Casa de Paz turns SEVEN years old on April 1st and we would like to invite you to be our guest at our birthday party.

We're renting out a movie theater and watching Saint Judy which tells the inspirational true story of immigration attorney Judy Wood and her fight that changed American asylum law forever.

  • Date: Sunday, March 24

  • Time: 1:40pm

  • Location: AMC Westminster Promenade 24

  • Address: 10655 Westminster Blvd, Westminster, 80020

  • Click here to reserve your ticket (and invite a friend to celebrate with us!): https://goo.gl/forms/bOAUuOSkY9C96aKD2

THREE NEW VOLUNTEER TEAMS

We plan on having a huge, gigantic, fantastic 2019 and you are a big part of this dream. In the past, we have seen our volunteers host, visit, donate, fundraise, and love the families we have served. We have been completely humbled by your dedication and enthusiasm to help those in need. This year we are inviting you to join in our work in a new way. We have decided to form volunteer teams that can go beyond direct services and help Casa de Paz operate better, grow larger and take our mission to the next level.

The three new teams are Admin (remote computer work, writing thank you notes, etc), Outreach (being a Casa ambassador at community events) and Special Events (planning events like volunteer appreciations, annual holiday card making event for detained immigrants, etc).

If you are interested in joining one of these teams please join us for our Launch Lunch!

  • Date: Saturday, March 23

  • Time: 12pm - 2pm

  • Location: Mt View United Church

  • Address: 10700 E Evans Ave, Aurora, 80014

  • Click here to sign up for the lunch OR to express interest in joining a team: https://goo.gl/forms/IYBc9PXzjHTRlTGB2

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Casa de Paz's 7th Birthday Party With Us!

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**Requires RSVP!!** (link below)

Let's go watch an inspiring movie about an immigration lawyer fighting for the rights of asylum seekers to celebrate Casa de Paz turning seven years old!!

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The movie tickets are on us, our way of saying THANK YOU for being part of the Casa de Paz family!!

Saint Judy tells the story of the heroic yet humble immigration attorney Judy Wood. In a landmark case, Wood represents a woman who was persecuted by the Taliban for opening a school for girls and forced to flee her home country. Judy fights day and night, in and out of court, weathering devastating losses and setbacks... all while juggling life as a single mother to her beloved son. Like Erin Brockovich, Saint Judy tells the story of a woman who will stop at nothing to advocate for change, upending unjust laws and saving future generations to come.

Watch the movie trailer here.

Click here to RSVP.

And yes, we'll eat cupcakes together after the movie:)

Sarah J

There's an I in team

Okay... I know my mom is gonna slap me for this one, but as I was searching for inspirational team quotes, I stumbled across this. Not sure it's inspirational... but it's something! :)

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On Saturday, February 23rd @ noon we are coming together for our Launch Lunch where we are introducing three new teams for you to volunteer in: admin, special events and outreach.  

This year we are inviting you to join in our work in a new way. We have decided to form volunteer teams that can go beyond direct services and help Casa de Paz operate better, grow larger and take our mission to the next level.

To learn more about our plans for these teams check out this flyer.

Then fill out this short Volunteer Appreciation Survey to RSVP for the lunch (or express interest in joining a team if you can't make the lunch). Also in the survey we ask what makes you feel loved and appreciated because that matters to us!

In gratitude,

Sarah J

Accompany immigrants affected by detention

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One quote I've been pondering is from Mother Teresa, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other."

Often times it's easy to forget the simple things in life like I belong to you, and you belong to me.

Well... have no fear -- I'm about to give you some opportunities to belong to one another:) Read below and find ways to walk alongside immigrants affected by detention. 

Families belong together,

Sarah J

Baby Shower For Newborn Whose Dad Was Deported
Baby Stefany's father was deported just a few days after she was born, leaving behind her mother to take care of her alone. We are throwing Stefany a baby shower on Monday to remind this family they're not alone and we care about them! Click here to find all the event info and items the family needs.

Host Transgender Women from Central America
Hello! I'm Brian and a Casa de Paz volunteer. For the past 7 months I have been hosting two transgender women from Central America who are seeking asylum. It is incredibly fulfilling. It grows my spirit towards nurturing and resistance. I help them navigate US culture, and help with their legal, financial, and medical needs. 

The Sante Fe Dreamers project is looking for sponsors in the Denver area. It is a powerful way to help immigrants escaping violence and transform helplessness into action! Here is a beautiful article written about a sponsor in New York: https://bit.ly/2RAJ0zg

It requires: 1) a place for the asylum seeker to sleep, 2) around $500 a month (raised from the community), 3) easy access to a bus stop, 4) rudimentary Spanish (I rely heavily on google translate). If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, or financially helping sponsors, reach out! fauverbr@gmail.com

Get To Know Martin From Cameroon
Martin, an asylum speaker from Cameroon currently living with a volunteer family in Highlands Ranch, is struggling with the uncertainty of the situation in Cameroon and the dangers his family is facing.  He just found out his younger brother was arrested and put in jail, and he feels powerless to help.  His host family, Sarah and Darren Straus, are dealing with some personal medical issue right now and have reached out to ask for some help from the Casa community.  Martin would love some friendship and companionship as he works through these difficult times.  If you are able to spend some time with him, it would be greatly appreciated.  He can be reached directly via text at 720-644-8163.  Be sure to let him know you’re a volunteer with Casa De Paz.  Thank you!

Oliver's family is reunited!!

After over three years of being separated, Oliver's family is finally reunited!! Many of you know Oliver was released from immigrant detention a couple years ago after winning asylum and now lives at Casa de Paz with me taking care of our guests and volunteers.

Last Thursday we received news that Mirabelle was granted a $5,000 bond. We immediately jumped into action because our volunteer appreciation dinner was Saturday night and we wanted her to be there and surprise our community. We probably hit eighty four million roadblocks (I personally counted each one) BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY OLIVER PAID HER BOND AND SHE WAS RELEASED FROM IMMIGRANT DETENTION!! Oliver, Mirabelle and Kylie are all back together again-- right where they belong!!

Oliver has been supported in every way possible as he's worked tirelessly to reunify with his wife and little girl. This was truly an effort that was made possible by the power of the people. Muchas gracias to everyone who came alongside Oliver and loved him supremely well in so many different ways. This is one of the most magnificent stories ever to witness. Thank you for being part of it. 

Families belong together,

Sarah J

Lorna's son died while she was in immigrant detention

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A few weeks ago our incredibly caring volunteer team picked up Lorna from the immigrant detention center. She had been detained for over two years, the entire time separated from her eight US citizen children, husband and grandbabies. 

We spent a little bit of time together chatting at the dinner table when Oliver bought her some warm tamales for her to enjoy for dinner. 

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As she was eating she looked over at me and said that a few days before Christmas she was talking with one of her sons on the phone and he told her the whole family was together making tamales. The room was full of family, food and festivities. Her son also told me he had just found out his wife was pregnant! They were expecting a baby girl in a few months. I could tell by the look in her eyes she desperately wanted to be there celebrating with them. 

The next thing she told me shook me to my soul. 

She said, "A few days after I spoke with my son on the phone I got another call from my husband. He told me our son had died... a sudden heart attack. Nobody was expecting it. I didn't believe what they told me; I kept saying, 'No, no no.' The only reason I finally realized it was true was when they sent me his death certificate." 

I didn't know what to say when I heard this story. She looked at me through eyes filled with tears and my eyes joined in her pain. We just sat there and cried. She showed me this quilt she knit for her son's baby girl that would be born soon.

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Around us, other volunteers were hustling and bustling working with other guests to get them home, phone calls were being made, tickets were being purchased, plans to get them to the airport were underway. And for Lorna and me, it felt like we got sucked into a moment that stayed silent. I hoped with all my heart that Lorna felt welcomed in our home, eating our tamales, being part of our family if only for one night. 

I am thankful for everyone who is part of the Casa de Paz family -- from the team of volunteers who picked up Lorna from detention, to the person who brought over the tamales, to the group who came and cleaned the guest bedrooms so she had a comfortable place to spend the night, to our friend Wayne who picked her up the following morning and brought her to the bus station so she could reunite with her family just in time for her son's funeral... the list goes on and on and on and on.

On Saturday night I want to throw a party to appreciate each and every one of you. Please join us for a delicious dinner, good conversations and a look into 2019 and where our community is headed. 

Click here to find all the information and the RSVP link.. Last I checked we only have about 20 seats left so please save your spot today because I'd love to see you there:) 

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Victor reunites with his daughter

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A few months ago Victor was arrested by ICE in the middle of the night. He was immediately transferred to a detention center far away from his home, separated from his three children with no warning. 

Days turned into weeks turned into months and Victor sat behind bars wondering when he would hug his children again. 

Thankfully one bright sunny day Victor received the joyous news that he would be released from immigrant detention. He began packing his few belongings and was released, out into the streets, with the same clothes he was arrested by ICE in. His pajamas. 

We had the wonderful gift of hosting Victor at Casa de Paz as he made plans to get back home to his family. He enjoyed a delicious dinner surrounded by friendly people who cared about him, he found some clothes and a warm winter jacket in our closet and then had a peaceful night of rest. 

The following morning he hugged us goodbye, eloquently thanked us for opening up the doors of our home to him and parted with these words, "One of the best parts about being released from detention is that I am treated like a human being again."

We are so happy that Victor is now back with his family-- right where he belongs!  

Sarah J