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

Welcoming Families from the Caravan to Colorado

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Today we received news from Piper over at American Friends Service Committee that a young family who was part of the caravan were passing through Colorado on their way to their family in another state. 

We were able to be part of welcoming them to Denver, if only for a short while by giving them a gift of cash to make their bus ride as comfortable as possible. 

I don't know about you, but I feel proud that I know people who care so much about complete strangers that we want to say, "Welcome! We are glad you are here!" 

There may be more families like this coming through Colorado and you can be sure we wanna give them the same exact greeting. Stay tuned on ways to be part of a welcome team! Oh, and tune into Telemundo tonight to watch this story on the news. 

Families belong together, 

Sarah J

Make holiday cards for detained immigrants

Join us and make a holiday card for someone who is locked behind immigrant detention bars this holiday season. A handmade card and candy bar will be given to each man and woman who is detained in the Aurora Immigrant Detention Center. 

Click here to find all the information.

This is a powerful way to remind people they matter, they are not forgotten about and we do care about them. Thank you for sending hope and love to immigrants who are separated from their families during this holiday season.

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Jeremy Collins' Mural


Jeremy Collins, THE Jeremy Collins, stopped by Casa de Paz and drew a unique mural on our wall. (Oh and he did it at no cost because he felt "inspired.") This guy travels around the world making it a more beautiful place with the art he creates. One of Jeremy's drawings was even on the cover of National Geographic!

Men and women who are released from immigrant detention and welcomed to the Casa will see this as soon as they walk in. He drew us something dazzling and delightful -- just like each and every person who comes into our home.

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Thirty Seven Guests

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Shout out to Oliver! I was just out of the country for a couple of weeks visiting my parents who live in Germany. During that time I left Oliver in charge of the Casa. He, alongside our super star volunteers, welcomed THIRTY SEVEN men and women released from immigrant detention into our home. 

Guests from Bangladesh, Cameroon, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, South Sudan and Venezuela filled our home and I know each and every person felt special and cared for because of this man.

If you see Oliver around, give him a high five:) 

Families belong together,

Sarah J

'Mi casa es su casa': the American welcoming migrants into her home

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When the Guardian visited in mid-September, one of the guests, a 32-year-old asylum seeker from central Africa, described his impressions of the Casa after spending seven months in Ice detention.

“Most of us who have passed through the border and the detention centre have a bad impression of America and are not expecting any good from anybody,” he said, over a bowl of chili con carne that had been brought round by volunteers.

“You are released into this strange place with no money in a country that has treated you poorly. Then you have this home where there’s free food, clothes, everything,” he added. “It is really amazing.”

Read the full story here.

Immigrant family reunited

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A few weeks ago I read y'all an email from a mom who was desperate to come to Colorado so her son could see his daddy who was locked behind the immigrant prison bars. They drove in from out of state and we welcomed them with open arms to our home. After visiting the dad for only one hour, during which they separated by a glass window, they returned home not knowing if or when they would see him again.

Well guess who showed up at the Casa several days ago? The dad!! He was released and stayed in our home while he waited for his family to come pick him up.

These stories fill up my tank and keep me going. Here's to hoping we can tell this exact same story over and over and over and over again:)

With perseverance and hope,

Sarah J

Children get to see their Daddy

I would like to give you an insight into one family's pain surrounding immigrant prisons.

Listen to this message from Michelle, who had not seen her husband for months and whose children had not seen their daddy for months. We had the honor of welcoming them to Casa de Paz... because families belong together.

And listen as my niece Gabi (one of my reasons for creating Casa de Paz) says "bubbles." :)

With perseverance and hope,

Sarha J

David Byrne at Red Rocks chooses the Casa!

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So this happened last night!

David Byrne performed in Denver and for each city he chooses a nonprofit to highlight. He calls it "Reasons To Be Cheerful" and guess what?!! He chose #CasaDePaz for his Denver tour!! I mean as if that wasn't cool enough, my sis and I also got free tickets to his sold out Red Rocks show:)

You can read the story David shared with his fans here: https://www.reasonstobecheerful.world/article/2018/8/28/start-something-start-slow-start-now

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