Preparing For Another Guest

Today the CMC support team for Keilin received word that Keilin gave birth to her daughter, Amor (which means Love). Keilin was an asylum seeker from Venezuela and lived in our church apartment with her four-year-old son Gerald from January to April.  She made the difficult decision to leave the US for Ecuador to be with her sister for Amor’s birth.  She hopes to return to Venezuela. 

Keilin was the third guest, after Edith and Sounkary, to take refuge in the church apartment.  Since her departure, our SHARE Coordinators, Cindy Fath and Joel Call, and I have discussed next steps for that space.  We’re pleased with a partnership that is emerging with CRIS (Community Refugee & Immigration Services).

CRIS offers refugee resettlement and receives federal funds to assist with housing, job placement, and other services.  In conversation with CMCer and CRIS employee Laura Cates (formerly Fitzpatrick) and CRIS’s housing coordinator, we have learned it can be challenging to find housing for queer-identifying refugees who often aren't welcome in their own ethnic refugee community.  

Rather than CRIS scrambling to secure housing upon arrival, the apartment could serve as temporary housing for an LGBTQ+ person or another refugee.  Our space would enable them to save resettlement money they would otherwise be spending down on rent, and give CRIS more time to find a suitable long-term apartment for them.  A CRIS case manager would support the guest for up to 90 days.  A shorter or slightly longer stay is also possible. 

We feel the church apartment is a good fit for this need.  CRIS already has a specific guest in mind, arriving in the US later this month.  It will still be good for CMC to have a support team to relate directly with the guest, but the work will be much less due to CRIS’s professional services.  The short-term nature of the stay will give us opportunity to evaluate how this arrangement works.

A line from our Membership Commitment Statement calls us to “ Love our neighbors…pursuing wholistic peace with justice.”  Offering hospitality in the church apartment to those who stretch conventional definitions of “neighbor” is an important way we live out this commitment.