A metallic disposal space blanket is sometimes all asylum seekers have with them when they show up at Colores United in Deming. Los Alamos resident Cathleen Schaller is gathering donations of items listed below as well as monetary donations. Courtesy photo
BY CATHLEEN SCHALLER
Colores United, a small charity in Deming, NM, was bustling with activity when I arrived on Wednesday December 7, 2022. I had come to pick up my son, Morgan Schaller. He had been volunteering with Colores United for the past week, preparing their shelter for the next wave of asylum seekers. I delivered a van full of fresh food, pillows, and warm clothing. It always seems like a lot until it is compared to the magnitude of the needs of the asylum seekers. Colores United generally expects to host 200 asylum seekers each week.
While I was there, Ariana Saludares, the Co-Founder of Colores United, showed me a picture of a metallic disposable space blanket. This, she said, was all that the asylum seekers brought with them when a busload of 50 asylum seekers arrived that day. She explained the significance: to her it marks the beginning of a deluge of needs. Usually, vetted asylum seekers come with a jacket and/or shoes that they have been given after discharge from border facilities. Most of their own clothing and other belongings are taken away upon arrival at those facilities, and not returned at discharge. This group, arriving without hoodies for the adults, meant that immigration services was running low on resources. Asylum seekers would therefore be arriving with greater unmet needs and potentially in greater numbers.
These legal immigrants come to Colores United with little more than the clothes on their backs and small items like cellphones that they have been allowed to keep. Colores United provides them a safe place to rest and regroup, food during their short stay, and wifi and other resources to contact friends and relatives in the US in order to request help with travel. Some of the immigrants have no contacts: they are in an especially perilous situation, unable to legally work for at least their first six months of asylum proceedings due to US immigration law. They must somehow survive.
I urgently appeal to the Los Alamos community for help. Our previous efforts have been very appreciated, especially the $6000 that was donated by Los Alamos residents in September and October. That money has allowed Colores United to pay their employees after FEMA funds were nationally depleted. The next tranche of funding arrives in a few weeks, but the next three weeks (including Christmas) are critical.
Ways to Help:
Donations via online donor forms, or checks delivered to me. coloresunited.org has a donation form; checks can be mailed to me at 3363 Orange St., Los Alamos, 87544. I will be traveling to and from Deming about once a week for the next few weeks, and can deliver checks. Colores United has budgeted money to cover essentials during this time, but greatly needs funds to meet the increased need that Ariana now anticipates.
Donate goods. Current most urgent needs are hoodies or coats, socks, and underwear. Socks and underwear are preferred to be new. Secondary needs are winter clothing, non perishable food (especially peanut butter), twin blankets or throw blankets, and close-toed comfortable shoes. Used coats, clothing, and shoes are fine. These donations are for all ages, genders, and sizes. Please no dressy clothes, summer clothes, or pajamas—space is at a premium, and these items cannot be put to immediate use. These donations can be dropped off at 3363 Orange St., or at the Los Alamos Unitarian Church. Donation boxes will be easily identifiable at these locations.
Sign Up Genius for Fresh Foods: click on this link or go to this web address: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080b4aaba629abf58-fresh Each signup slot is for purchase of fresh fruit, vegetables, or meat. Most slots only cost $5 to fill. Each slot has an associated date when these food items should be dropped off at 3363 Orange St. Smith’s gift cards can also be purchased and sent to 3363 Orange St., and I will use these to purchase fresh food.
Sponsor a Family or Individual: I would like to begin a program where Los Alamos residents can host a family of asylees or an individual asylum seeker for 6-12 months. These asylum seekers would be carefully vetted before arriving in Los Alamos. Hosting residents would be able to request certain specifications, such as age, number of asylees, and other characteristics. Residents would also be vetted, and asylees would be monitored and assisted during their stays. Probable assistance would include school enrollment help, English classes and practice, assistance in enrolling in social programs and accessing Los Alamos area non profits, and employment assistance once the asylees are able to legally work. Please contact me via email if you would like to become a host family or volunteer to provide assistance. firstname.lastname@example.org