Giving Immigrants a Voice in their Education, Community and Future
The SSJ Welcome Center is committed to empowering our clients and students to make structural and institutional changes in their communities outside the SSJ Welcome Center.
In 2013 the Programs for Education, Awareness, Collaboration, and Empowerment for Immigrants (PEACE program) was created through the collaboration between student leaders and the Welcome Center staff. The PEACE program began with a steering committee of six women and has progressed into a support and empowerment group. Currently the PEACE program is composed of sixteen women who choose various session topics to meet the needs of the group, stay informed on various issues to share with their community, and become involved in advocacy movements in the greater Philadelphia regions.
This past year information sessions led by PEACE group members included:
- The new Executive Immigration Action
- Spanish resources for special needs children
- The location of food banks and soup kitchens.
In addition to member-led sessions, the PEACE group also hosts presenters: An immigration information session was provided by a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited Welcome Center staff member; and in April, Azucena Ugarte, a presenter from Women Against Abuse, informed the group about signs of domestic abuse, different kinds of abuse, and what to do if they find themselves in an abusive situation.
It is the goal of the SSJ Welcome Center that the PEACE group members reach out to immigrants who are not connected with the Center to inform them of their rights, changes in immigration policies, qualifications for DACA, social services that are available, and other significant information they learn in meetings. As the members of the immigrant community are their own best ambassadors, the women spread this information so that the immigrant community can best serve and advocate for itself.
Learn more about one of the PEACE group's founding members, Lizam Morales, under our "Immigrant Spotlight."
SSJ Welcome Center Student Leadership Team
Amarily is a Dominican mother of two, one of whom is a special needs child. She is a stay-at-home mother who attends English classes at the SSJ Welcome Center and has volunteered at the Vision for Equality- a Philadelphia Parent Support Group. Amarily brings her immigrant experience, cultural diversity skills, and cooking skills to the Center’s Student Leadership Team. Also, as a mother of a special needs child, she is connected to many organizations that have useful information that she can share with other immigrants.
Lizam is an immigrant from Guatemala and has been involved with Latino TEACH- an educational program open to Spanish speakers living with HIV– as a class assistant, and Congreso de Latinos Unidos. She brings her immigrant experience and cultural diversity skills to the Center’s Student Leadership Team.
Ngan is a freshman at Drexel University, a volunteer at Visitation BVM Parish, and was a tutor at Little Flower High School. She came to the United States from Vietnam and struggled to learn English and keep up in her classes. She brings her immigrant experience, cultural diversity skills, and intelligence (finishing with honors and in the top 3% of her class at Little Flower High School) to the Center’s Student Leadership Team. Ngan is also a translator for her parents, who currently attend the SSJ Welcome Center for English classes.
Rosa works as a full-time Administrative Assistant for the SSJ Welcome Center. She came to the United States from Guatemala and is now a certified English-Spanish/Spanish-English Interpreter and Translator. She is a volunteer at her children’s schools and participates in Guatemalan American cultural events. She brings her immigrant experience, cultural diversity skills, computer skills, and knowledge of the Latino Community to the Center’s Student Leadership Team. Rosa was recently awarded the Sister Marian Behrle Literacy Award at the Sisters of Saint Joseph 10th Anniversary Dinner Gala.
Yvrose works as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Saint Joseph Villa and attends English classes at the SSJ Welcome Center. Originally from Haiti, she volunteers by reaching out to the Haitian community of Philadelphia and translates from Creole to English. She brings her immigrant experience, cultural diversity skills, and awareness of the needs of the Haitian community to the Center’s Student Leadership Team.