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Dear Friends,

It truly takes a village of like-minded people who, in many different ways, make a difference in the lives of asylum seekers.

We spent quite a bit of time in the past month along with many other partner organizations and individuals advocating at Portland City Hall. I am grateful for a unanimous vote by Portland's City Council to restore these funds to the city budget for 2019-2020. Thanks to all of you  (including our wonderful Board member, teacher and friend Linda Carleton pictured to the right) for supporting legislation and budget proposals that assist asylum seekers and other struggling Mainers.

In addition to advocacy efforts, this month we said farewell to our fabulous social work interns who spent part of the academic year at Hope House as part of our pilot Asylum Seeker Assistance Program, also known as ASAP.  ASAP interns and volunteers work with asylum seekers to find solutions to immediate needs. We are excited that we are continuing the ASAP partnership with Gateway Community Services and expanding this service with the help of the all-volunteer "Welcoming the Stranger" family mentoring network.   
 
Thank you for being part of this very special Hope Acts community. Our partners, volunteers, and supporters mean the world to us. I thank each of you for your contributions.  Please call or email me if you would like to chat or visit us at Hope House. I can be reached at 207-228-1140 or martha@hopeacts.org.

Warmest Regards,
                                                 


Martha Stein
Executive Director
ASAP - Finding Solutions for Asylum Seekers
Almost every day, an individual or a family walk into Hope House looking for some type of assistance. Until last fall, we would usually have to say, "I'm sorry. We don't have anyone who can assist you," because we did not have a program or resources available. Yet, we were frustrated because we truly wanted to help.

Fortunately, Hope Acts' Program Manager Carolyn Graney (who happens to be a social worker) and Gateway Community Services Director of Clinical Supervision Krista Hall collaborated to form what is now our Asylum Seeker Assistance Program, or ASAP.   Social work interns Devin Moore, Jen Dorval, and Abdi Issack worked one-on-one with Hope Hope residents and the larger asylum seeker community to address New Mainers' immediate needs. Another student volunteer, Ian Perry, also participated in the ASAP pilot. 

ASAP is intentionally a low-barrier program. No appointment is needed and services are free and we have French and Portuguese interpreters (often other asylum seekers volunteering with our program) available to facilitate communications. 60 client meetings later, ASAP has proven to be a winning solution. Our interns found apartments, read and interpreted mail, made medical appointments, advocated with other organizations and filled out job applications for their clients. 

All of the interns enjoyed their experience at Hope House and they plan to continue visiting us. One of our interns commented, "I am amazed at the resilience of the asylum seekers. They have been through so much, but they are determined to make things work here." 

Gateway's Krista Hall commented, "this has been a great experience for our interns. They have had a chance to engage with people from different cultures. They learned a lot about barriers faced by asylum seekers and each intern had the satisfaction of solving problems for their clients."

What's next for ASAP? Read on. . .  
Social Work intern Jen Dorval with Hope House resident B. Jen and B. worked together throughout Jen's internship at Hope House.
What's Next for ASAP?  
We are pleased to share that through a collaboration with volunteers primarily from the  Welcoming the Stranger (WTS) asylum seeker mentoring network, trained ASAP volunteers will be available to assist asylum seekers in completing the Employment Authorization form on Wednesday afternoons from noon to 3:00 pm.

WTS volunteer Nancy Markowitz, who describes herself as "a retired social worker who now works full-time for free," has been partnering with us so WTS mentors and families (including asylum seekers on WTS' waitlist) can access ASAP services. Nancy reached out to also "retired" attorney Jane Makela, who agreed to train volunteers who will assist asylum seekers in filling out their work authorization forms.

Ten eager volunteers showed up at Hope House last Wednesday for two hours of training.  We welcome these new volunteers to Hope House, and we look forward to providing Employment Authorization form services each Wednesday afternoon. Thank you, Nancy, Jane, and volunteers!

The fine print: Our volunteers are not lawyers so they can not advise immigrants on their asylum cases or on other legal matters, but they can explain how to complete the form and ensure all of the paperwork is mailed to the correct location. 

FMI: please contact Carolyn Graney at carolyn@hopeacts.org. New volunteers ready to work


Hope Acts welcomes Bowdoin student K Irving as our summer intern. K will be at Hope House Monday through Thursdays helping with all of our programs. She is looking forward to working with New Mainers and practicing her French. Welcome, Kay!
Current Wishlist 
  • Supplies for our Summer School.  Hope House English Language Program (HHELP) conducts classes throughout the summer. We are looking for 1-subject spiral notebooks, pens and pencils as well as new or gently used adult-sized backpacks. Please contact carolyn@hopeacts.org or call 207-264-6005. 
  • Hope House Garden Maintenance Volunteers. We have six raised beds with veggies and flowers in the back of Hope House, and perennials planted along the side path. Interested? Please contact martha@hopeacts.org or call 207-228-1140.
THANK YOU
Shopping on Amazon.com? Please go to smile.amazon.com and choose Hope Acts. We will receive .05% of your purchase as a donation from Amazon.  THANK YOU!
Here's a really easy way to help Hope Acts!  Would you CLYNK for us?  If you would be willing to turn your recyclables into a donation for Hope Acts (in Maine -- bottles and cans that include a deposit), send an email to martha@hopeacts.org with your mailing address and we'll send you a few bar-coded bag stickers. Put the sticker on a CLYNK bag, fill and return the bag to a participating Hannaford supermarket.  THANK YOU.

Thank you, in advance, for your financial support of Hope Acts. Your donation today provides housing, classes, and a sense of community for immigrants, allowing them to achieve their goals for a successful future. Please visit hopeacts.org/give or mail a check to Hope Acts, PO Box 7615, Portland ME 04112.
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Hope Acts · PO Box 7615 · Portland, ME 04112 · USA

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