As you know, the communities of immigrants, People of Color, and LGBTQ+ individuals are all attacked by unjust laws explicitly targeting them.
Our Mission Statement reads:
Hope CommUnity Center fosters diverse, empowered learning communities engaged in personal and societal transformation. Through service and advocacy, we stand together with immigrants and others who are tenacious and courageous in the face of all systems of oppression.
And advocate we have, earlier this year when we opened a dialog with OCPS to work together towards solutions for registering immigrant students, to our work with Orange County Commissioners to create a Community ID program. The first resulted in once-a-month events in which OCPS staff come to hope to register students. We even added other partners to provide the required vaccines and physicals to prepare students to start school immediately. On the other hand, the new anti-immigration law has made this much harder, as cities and counties are now prohibited from funding such endeavors – a setback, to be sure, but still possible. The law does not exclude private funders, so we are exploring avenues for that.
Regarding the recent legislation in Florida, we have brought staff and community members to the state capitol in Tallahassee to educate lawmakers about the impact of policies on the lives of everyday people. We have held some of those same lawmakers accountable through rallies, protests, and events at their local offices, and we have garnered quite a bit of press, with members of our staff being regularly quoted locally, state-wide, and nationally. We also hold regular information sessions for community members to understand better how the law affects them. Furthermore, we are creating neighborhood committees called Hope Communities to disseminate information more quickly and document harm and abuses to community members.
Hope’s Executive Director, Felipe Sousa Lazaballet, was recently invited to a Latino outreach event at the White House, where he spoke with President Joe Biden. Felipe asked the President to visit Florida and meet with immigrants and LGBTQ+ communities. The President agreed that he needed to come. We hope he follows through.
Everything we do to support our community is possible because of your faith and trust in us. We are eternally grateful.