“You don’t know what it’s like to be afraid.”
That’s the line that stayed with us longest last night, after our Happy Hour and Hellos event, where 200+ young professionals and community leaders came together to support United Way’s work with immigrants and refugees.
In a time of fear and exclusion, we came together to stand against walls and for inclusion of all people, no matter their race or religion or birthplace. We came together because we know the time for action is now. We came together because long after the marching is over, organizations like the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project will be fighting for what’s right. And as United Way, we will fight alongside them.
Sara Levin, United Way director of community services, spoke about the urgent need for our community to unite at a time when our immigrant and refugee neighbors are unsettled and scared. We heard from Maikol and Ronald, brothers from Honduras who left the violence there behind after their father was murdered. They spent weeks traveling north to the border. Once there, they were detained before finally receiving asylum in the U.S. We heard from Abel, a United Way Emerging Leader, about the fear his family lived in for more than a decade.
So many of us don’t know what it’s like to leave everything we’ve ever known because the unknown is safer. We don’t know what it’s like to cram a backpack full and travel in shadows for weeks with only the faint light of a far-away haven to guide us. We don’t know what it’s like to hear a knock at the door and immediately fear we’ll be sent back to hunger or war or worse.
We don’t know what it’s like to be afraid.
We do know, though, that when we come together we can have a huge impact. United Way has a long history of partnership with organizations that support immigrant and refugee populations in King County (50+ at last count). And that work has become exponentially more important as of late.
In the past month, we’ve talked about our campaign to #LiveUnitedForEquity. Now we need to put those words to action. Will you join us?
Volunteer to help refugees, immigrants and communities of color.
Give to support the more than 50 agencies United Way funds serving refugees and immigrants.
Learn more about how you can support our work through our Live United e-newsletter.