Santa Cruz Welcoming Network lends a helping hand to asylum seekers – Santa Cruz Sentinel

A leaf canopy provides shade at Brommer Street County Park on Sunday as community members attend the annual Santa Cruz Welcoming Network picnic. The network was founded in 2019 by a group of residents of Santa Cruz County, driven by the belief that everyone has the right to seek freedom from violence, fear and repression. Welcome Network volunteers connect personally with refugees and immigrants and accompany them through their challenges such as immigration court, securing housing, health care and employment. At the picnic, Bonny Doon resident Phil McManus, who was one of the founders of the local group, said, “The Santa Cruz Welcoming Network started with the idea that many people in our community were very concerned about the treatment of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers. If they had the chance, they would come forward to help. Although the focus is on refugees in general, the 13 families currently assisted by the network are in the process of applying for asylum. The families helped by the Santa Cruz Welcome Network come from Central America, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine and Afghanistan. Sunday’s picnic brought together about 40 volunteers and 30 new neighbors from Santa Cruz County. (Shmuel Thaler – Sentinel of Santa Cruz)

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