Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year to one and all!

During this season of charity and reflection, consider a contribution to The Welcome Project’s support of immigrants in Somerville. Re-posted from http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/193622/6b3a666d1e/ARCHIVE:

Dear Friend of The Welcome Project,

You”ll see a lot of “best of” lists this week.

At The Welcome Project, we”ve compiled our own list. Times remain tough for immigrant families, but with your support we accomplished a lot in 2010. We”ve chosen 5 highlights from our work this year. Do you agree?

If you believe in the work we”re doing, I”m asking you to help with a year end contribution to support our work in 2011. If you have already made a donation as part of our annual appeal, THANK YOU for your support. Otherwise, please consider making your donation now. Believe me, individual donations make a tremendous difference in our work with immigrant families in this city.
Here are just five of our highlights from 2010:

  • Youth lead for DREAM Act resolution. “My dream is to reach my full potential through education; I want you to feel my desperation for not being able to do what I want to do,” testified Gabriel, 18, to the Somerville School Committee.Youth from The Welcome Project and Centro Presente worked together on a campaign to gain local support for The DREAM Act, federal legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who have lived in the US for many years, have no criminal record, and attend college or join the military. Their personal stories and compelling testimony led to unanimous votes of support of resolutions by the Somerville School Committee and Somerville Board of Aldermen.

Read some of the youth testimony in our story, Youth Victory: DREAM Act passes school committee.

  • Parents step up to schools challenge. Children look to their parents for guidance and support in schools. But immigrant parents face many barriers to navigating the US educational system. To help immigrant parents and youth more effectively engage in their education, we started an innovative new ESOL class called “Helping Your Children in School.” The parents, all Limited English Speakers, learned to read the new report cards, practiced making calls to teachers and to administrators to ask for tutors, and made a presentation — in English — to school and city officials at the December SomerPromise meeting (in photo). We also helped the parents form a Parents Group, to have a more direct voice in the schools.

Read more about the class in “Expanded ESOL Classes Help Students Connect.”

  • Youth LIPS speak across cultures. “There”s a power to being bilingual, and you”re here to share your power and learn how to use your power,” Zarita Araujo-Lane told the 18 bilingual high school students in our 2010 Liaison Interpreters Program of Somerville (LIPS). Zarita, president and owner of a professional interpreter training company, led several weeks of training to help our students take their interpreting skills out of their homes and into the community. To participate in LIPS, youth must be fluent speakers in English and their home language.
    • This year”s group includes Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Portuguese, and Nepali speakers.
    • This fall, our LIPS youth have interpreted at an immigrant health fair and flu clinic, at a meeting to envision and plan the new Green Line, at meetings of the Mystic Tenants” Association, and at PTA meetings for parents.

Learn more about our LIPS program, our trainers, and the youth in the story, “Youth Use Their Bilingual Skills to Empower Community.”

  • First Generation to College. No matter how good your grades, when your parents are new to the US educational system it can be a challenge to know how to navigate the college application process.This fall, we strengthened our First Generation program with workshops on essay writing, completing college applications, and got direct help from Tufts students, including a visit and tour of Tufts University (in photo). Six of the seven June high school graduates from our LIPS program enrolled in college this fall, including Kathleen Portillo, who received a prestigious Posse Scholarship to attend Union College.

Read the Boston Globe story, “Finding the Power of Words” featuring Kathleen Portillo, LIPS graduate and winner of a Posse Scholarship.

  • English classes keep growing.Whenever I read a rant in theSomerville Journal’s SpeakOut about “how immigrants don”t want to learn English,” it makes my blood boil. There are 2-year waiting lists for immigrant adults hungry to learn English. Because we hate waiting lists, we keep expanding our program. This fall, we nearly doubled our size again — with 140 people registering for seven classes! Through partnerships with the Elizabeth Peabody House and the Somerville Public schools, and very dedicated staff and volunteers, we”re now in three locations, and our four morning classes (including the Helping Your Children in School class above) have child care provided for parents.

Read more about our ESOL class, “Expanded ESOL Program Helps Students Connect”

Honorable mentions: The YUM Restaurant Card and FundraiserMystic Kids Garden, the production of “They Don”t Tell You Anything” part of the Exposed at Work project, a key role in the LiveWell project, and many others.

You can help build the “Best of 2011” list with The Welcome Project by making your year-end donation now.

Click on the “Donate Now” button to make your year-end contribution now to help The Welcome Project provide essential support to immigrant families in Somerville. If you”d prefer to donate by check, see below.

Give Now to Support The Welcome ProjectThank you for all you have done to support immigrant families in this city and across the country. I know that by working on the ground locally, we are making a difference in the lives of families here and sending a message to others across our state and country about basic human rights and the need to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Sincerely,

Warren Goldstein-Gelb
Executive Director

P.S. To make your tax deductible contribution, please take five minutes now and help by clicking on the link above and helping with whatever contribution you can. Or send a check to:

The Welcome Project
530 Mystic Ave., #111
Somerville, MA 02145

P.P.S. Please forward this message to others who you think would like to help us raise these much-needed funds.