When Valentina immigrated to the USA from El Salvador with her children, she was also hoping to leave hunger behind. She has been living in the Seattle area now for many years and the specter of hunger is still not a distant dream. “As an adult I had to go through hunger to provide for my children. Even if you work hard in El Salvador it’s not enough.” Would we want her and her children to go through the same experience here in our communities?
There are times when it’s important to revisit our values. With the recent immigration ban for people from seven majority Muslim countries and the wave of deportations, we feel it’s important for us to affirm HIP’s values. HIP’s services have always been open to our immigrant and refugee populations, since they tend to be some of the most underserved. We also celebrate diversity. People from different cultures, ethnicity, country, religion, and so on make us richer and stronger. We are committed to keeping our doors open to people who need our services most irrespective of their background.
This week, we decided to create a space for our community to share their thoughts on this issue. As part of our Valentine’s Day celebration at the Lake City Senior Days Meal Program, we asked our diners to write a note to our neighbors who are Muslims and immigrants. What we heard from our volunteers and diners were some of the most beautiful things. “All are welcome” was a clear message from all the participants. Love and compassion won the day. We feel honored to work with a diverse and compassionate community that makes our programs so inclusive and vibrant.