During these times of chaos when all of us are trying to survive each day, the amazing generosity in our community has come shining through.
Three months ago, COVID-19 raised its ugly head here on the Oregon coast. As doors closed to employees in our tourism, fish processing and agricultural sectors, our immigrant population was drastically impacted. Those without legal resident status, including Guatemalan asylum-seekers, received no unemployment nor stimulus checks. These workers contribute so much to the success of our local economy, yet there was no safety net for them. They are the forgotten population.
Acompañar, a group of volunteers assisting some Guatemalan asylum-seekers, saw the unmet need and began a fundraising effort by requesting funds from friends and acquaintances. What began as help for seven families grew to 70 families in desperate need. Food Share of Lincoln County came to the rescue with help to provide basic food needs as our group reached out to churches and individuals for donations to provide some cash assistance to the families.
With so much divisiveness in our nation, it is heartwarming to see local community members (and others outside of our community) respond with generous donations of both cash and time to help these families living in the shadows.
Pastor Angel, of The First Baptist Church, has given his time tirelessly to distribute (and now deliver because of the quarantine) to 35 families each week. Alex has been helping him, too. Pastor Bob and the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church stepped up to provide their nonprofit status, and early on Pastor Bob helped to supply us with black beans, a basic need for Guatemalans. Dorothy and Mary call our families each week to let them know we do have food and money to share. Sheila, Jackie, Mary Ann, and Jacki pick food up from Food Share and Grocery Outlet each week and organize for distribution day. Jane watches over the donations and the books. Linda just does whatever is needed. Kelly and her friends now buy and package the black beans each week.
But through it all, the message has been loud and clear to our Guatemalan neighbors. Community members care about them and have reached out to help them during these frightening times. I wish you could hear the “thank yous.”
Continued donations are greatly appreciated, too. Our families will not heal quickly from this financial disaster. Checks should be made payable to YCPC (Yachats Community Presbyterian Church) with "Acompañar donation" in the memo line. Mail to: Acompañar, PO Box 755, Waldport, OR 97394 .
And, I am filled with gratitude for all of the support received. Thank you so much.
Ginger Gouveia is a resident of Waldport.