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Steph- Wellspring

5 Aug

I would like to thank everyone at Wellspring for making this a great summer. Alice and Jerry, Richard, George, Laurel, Mike, Maria, Alan, and Al. Wellspring was a really supportive and positive environment for Grace and I. I got the chance to learn about a different culture and religion than my own, and I hope that some of the work Grace and I did will help Wellspring to attract new members.

Wellspring is a good example of a group of people who are living their values and I appreciate how rare that is to find. I hope everyone there continues to find love, peace, and happiness in the future, and that we’ll all see each other again soon! Thank you to everyone at Wellspring for this amazing opportunity!!!!


Steph- Farewell Blog

3 Aug

Grace and I have been very busy creating a contact database for CIF, helping design and start an august fundraising campaign, having a productive meeting with National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and wrapping up our time here. Our last day is August 6th! I hope that all of our work this summer serves to help the Centreville Labor Resource Center get off to a running start. That we’ve helped raise awareness among the workers so that when it comes time to form a worker’s assembly they will have an idea of what a labor center can be. I hope all of the fliers, form templates, grant research, fundraising letters, and thinking we’ve done about CLRC help everyone who gets involved in the future to be able to have more to work with than when we got here in the summer.

I’d like to thank Alice and Jerry Foltz, Carlos, Alejandro, Miki, OG Harper, Connie Rojas, Terry Angelotti, Brooke Perez, all of the CIF board members and volunteers, Wellspring Church, George Crossman, Richard Thayer, Mary Schaller Blaufuss, Ana Karim, Paula, David Bennett, NDLON, Garrett, and my wonderful fellow intern Grace for making this amazing summer possible.

This opportunity has been the one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I was able to work in a truly positive and supportive environment with many different people from whom I could learn a lot. Despite being just an intern/volunteer I felt like everyone valued Grace and I’s contributions to CIF. I met some amazing members of the immigrant community here who despite racism, classism, and xenophobia are able to act on what is in their hearts and try to make their community better.  I gained perspective, friendships, and experiences that I hope will be with me forever.

Next time Grace and I see you all again the center will be open!



Steph- Collecting Data

20 Jul

This past week Grace and I collected A LOT of data, with the help of some awesome CIF volunteers of course. We needed to know how many workers generally wait for work, how many get hired, and how many employers hire workers. So Grace, several volunteers, and I all hung out on the street corner for several days in the past week and counted. We need to be able to compare this data to the data we’ll have about employment when the center opens, that way we’ll know how to improve and how well the center is working.

We also have been gearing up for two amazing events this weekend. The first is a community soccer game that is collective effort between GMU and CIF. Twenty foreign exchange students will be coming from Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador  to visit the US and learn from community members about what it is like to be an immigrant here in the United States. On Saturday they’ll be playing soccer with members of the Centreville community, of course both immigrant and native born Americans are invited.

The next day, Sunday will also be the day of Wellspring’s Spanish and English bilingual services as well as ESL class, which the students will hopefully be free to experience.

Steph- Fundraising!

12 Jul

Last week Grace and I had the opportunity to experience something new. We met with two members of an organization that helps raise funds for progressive causes! They normally raise money for very large organizations who budgets that consist of millions of dollars, not small ones like the Centreville Immigration Forum. So to them, the $50,000 we need to fundraise seems like nothing. Their office was located in Washington DC, so Grace and I had to take the metro. To me, the architecture of the metro reminds me of a sci-fi movie. It has round tunnels with geometric tiles and red lights in the ground that flash when a train is coming, it looks like the main thoroughfare of some future post-apocalyptic city.

The fundraiser’s office we went to in the city reminded me of a very different pop-culture genre: The West Wing. It was completely blue with a very large democratic donkey sculpture in a conference room and vintage democratic presidential campaign posters. The people in it were very professional, focused, and rather tall. It was like stepping into a different world.

In the meeting the two staff members we met with listened intently while Alice explained CIF’s history and our new project to start a labor resource center. They promised to look through their contacts in Virginia and identify possible individuals who would be willing to donate to our project. What was interesting is that they were most interested in who we spoke to at funder organizations more than what we said to them. It was important for them to know who our contacts were so that they could use their contacts to the best of their ability.

Steph- Worker’s Meeting in Library

5 Jul

Last week we had the meeting to which Grace, Connie, Alejandro, Carlos, and I had all been inviting the day laborers to come to, to talk about the new Centreville Labor Resource Center which will be opening this summer. In the beginning, the meeting started off a little slow. A christian, korean men’s group called 2-20 graciously donated pizza and soda to feed everyone at the meeting, and for awhile they were the only new people there! Carlos and I decided to wait outside of the library to invite workers to come as they came home from work. After a half an hour enough people had showed up that we decided to go in and start eating the pizza.

The first part of the meeting was dedicated to hearing from a legal aid group which helps workers get their salaries from employers who refuse to pay. Dan Choi and an intern named Eva told the workers about their rights. Chief among these were the right to a minimum wage and overtime. It seemed like everyone there appreciated the information and at least learned something about what their option were when their rights were being violated. As this presentation went on, several more workers showed up to the meeting, making the total attendance about 20-25 workers.

After that we were able to have Miki, Carlos, and Alejandro, three of the workers who have been involved since the beginning talk about the benefits of the center and why they were involved. The workers got a chance to ask questions and give their opinions. One important topic was to reassure the workers that the police were in favor of this center since it made their job easier, decreasing the amount of employers stopping on the street and obstructing traffic. The workers would benefit from having a safe place to wait where they could count on a more equitable distribution of work, the police would have less work to do in regards to maintaining the flow of traffic, and the community would also have a safe place to come and hire the workers they need. Win/win/win!

The last part of the meeting was a skit showing how the lottery would be performed. The workers were seemed excited to take part in the skit, and it led to excellent conversation regarding how the center would function when it was open. Ultimately there are still a few things to figure out, but I think this meeting really helped everyone to imagine how the center would work and got some more new day laborers excited about it opening this summer.

Press for the Centreville Labor Resource Center!

30 Jun





Here is an article describing the preparations for the opening of the Centreville Labor Resource Center, the very center which Grace and I are helping to open at the end of this summer!

Steph- Gearing up for the worker’s meeting

25 Jun

This week Grace and I got a chance to meet all of the workers who have been involved with establishing the center since the beginning. On Monday we had a meeting with all of them to talk about how we can get other workers who haven’t been involved to get involved. In the meeting we decided it would be beneficial if on whatever day one of them was available, they could come out with us to talk to workers on the street. On the street, Grace and I have often discussed the fact that all of the rules of the worker’s center are decided by the workers, therefore making it beneficial for them to be involved. However, it is easy for us to say that, but since none of the workers who were talking about the center in their communities were with us, it seemed kind of disjointed. There are of course many obstacles to the workers coming with us on the street, since obviously they have to work too!

Luckily,on one of the days we went to the street, Alejandro contacted us and said he was available to help. On Friday Grace, Alejandro, Connie (another long-term volunteer), and I all went out to invite workers to an upcoming meeting about the center. I brought with me some of the fliers we had made. These fliers were in Spanish, English, and Korean, in order to reach as many employers in the community as possible. We showed them to the workers so they could imagine how the center would help to create more opportunities for work. Any home owner who needed help around the house, but who was afraid of getting a traffic violation, of not knowing which workers they could communicate with, or how the whole day laborer system worked would feel more comfortable coming to the center. The way they would hear about the center of course would be through the fliers. After talking a little bit about how the center would work with the fliers as an example, we invited all of the workers we talked to to come to the meeting.