Winter Garden, Florida– Something special happened this past weekend. Undocumented immigrant communities in Winter Garden seem to have found their safe place–a place to freely and without fear find resources and opportunities– at Resurrection Catholic Church. “Until now, there hasn’t been a place like Hope CommUnity Center that people in Winter Garden trust to access immigration resources and assistance…They are growing a safe zone and beginning to feel comfortable coming out,” says Liliana, a volunteer at Hope. Liliana is a parishioner at this church, along with HCC’s community organizer Anallely. For them, it is important to bring the work of Hope, this recent Immigration Fair, to an underserved immigrant population. Over 100 were in attendance Sunday night.
Resurrection Church’s Father Vincenzo belongs to a congregation of Scalabrinian fathers, who in the late 1800s assisted with European migration. Now, he and the other pastors at Resurrection serve Portuguese, Spanish, and English-speaking immigrants, predominately from the Americas. He says that aside from immigration assistance, he also helps with “religious care”. Each culture he works with, though all Catholic, are “flavored” in different ways.
Present at the immigrant fair were two legal attorneys. One of the attorneys, Melina Portillo, says that her calling in life is to serve people and that she’s glad she’s able to use her skills to provide legal immigration aid. She shared the sentiment with Liliana that the church has become a safe place for undocumented and vulnerable immigrant communities in Winter Garden. She encourages Central Florida immigrants to, “get of your house, your comfort zone. Do not take anything for granted. We are here for you. But you have work to do.” The work, she says, is creating a Dignity and Protection Plan in the case of deportation, learning the constitutional rights you have in this country, attending more workshops like this Immigration Fair, creating a savings plan, and consulting an attorney.
Hope’s family would like to thank Resurrection Church for opening their home and providing a safe space for these discussions.
Please click here to learn more about the “work you can do” to keep your immigration status updated and to learn more about the types of resources and events you can access at Hope CommUnity Center.