October 30, 2022 Essay: Will You Join Us?

Oct 27, 2022

The news is full of humanitarian crises. Some are even happening right here in NYC; only they are largely invisible to me. Walking around the Upper East Side, you’d never know that there is a migrant crisis, that we have more hungry and homeless people than ever, and that racial justice and climate change issues are serious. What can I, one person, do about it? Not much by myself, but Fr. Hilbert reminds me to “Stop being one person!”

Ignatian Social Justice partners with organizations that mitigate others’ suffering. They safeguard the dignity of people by protecting human rights and the things required for human decency. The framework is in place to make it simple for you and me to help. I’d like to tell you about some of these activities and hope you will see something that entices you to join Ignatian Social Justice (ISJ).

ISJ joins forces with Catholic Charities Immigration Center to work as legal screeners (onsite and remotely) for people seeking help with their status. After we screen them, they see lawyers who evaluate their cases. This is a great way to experience the complexity of the immigration system. We also supplement English as a Second Language training, acting as English conversation partners (remotely) to English language learners. Some of us welcome new arrivals at the new Asylum Seekers Welcome Center. Being proximate to refugees changes our perception of them from an item in the news to people just like us.

Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health empowers vulnerable East Harlem families by meeting their basic needs. We run two programs with them. We host an annual Care of Creation event, giving children from St. Ignatius and Little Sisters an afternoon of fun, learning how to become climate activists. Last year we started a College Access program for Little Sisters’ high school clients. College counselors from Regis and Loyola High Schools gave “What is College?” workshops. St. Francis College gave a seminar on FAFSA and a tour of their school. We advise five Little Sisters’ 12th graders in our College Essay Mentor Program. Does becoming a mentor appeal to you?

Recently ISJ began volunteering with Team TLC NYC, a grassroots organization that welcomes new arrivals from Texas with smiles, food, clothing, and toiletries. We were there on a cold day and greeted refugees who wearing summer clothes. We had warm clothes for most, but not all, of them. Would you like to make their introduction to NYC a little more friendly?

We volunteer with City Relief, an organization that addresses homelessness, and with the New York Common Pantry. They need your help.

To address Racial Justice, ISJ and the National Y hosted an Immersion Trip to help build a new cluster of tiny homes for families and staff of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. In the spring, we’ll host a series called “Breaking Open the Sin of Racism”.

ISJ is an integral part of the Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement. One often-overlooked fact is that climate change is driving Central American migrants north. And the US immigration system does not accept climate change as a valid reason to seek asylum.

Over the Columbus Day weekend, nearly 2,000 migrants came to NYC, bringing the number here to 19,200. Refugees need our prayers. Please join us in an Interfaith Prayer Service for Migrants on November 14th.

Now that you have an idea of what we do, I hope you will join us in ISJ.

– Laura de Boisblanc, Chair of Ignatian Social Justice