Bus Blog: Sojourner Truth House and The Dream Project
October 15, 2020
On Wednesday, October 14 the Nuns on the Bus went on two virtual site visits. The first stop was in Gary, Indiana with the Sojourner Truth House. At Sojourner Truth House, Sister Simone met with Sister Peg Spindler, the Executive Director, Pam Key, the Director of Client Services, Casaundra Hill, the Senior Case Manager, Twyla Burks, the Support Services Coordinator, and Angie Curtis.Established in 1997, Sojourner Truth House serves homeless and at-risk women and their children and underserved members of the community through providing a day center, food pantry, transportation, case management, and recovery classes. They focus on a holistic service delivery model that strengthens the mind, body, and spirit of the clients, and as Casaundra said, “there is no cookie-cutter service here. We go by what our clients need.”
Beyond meeting the needs of their clients, the Sojourner Truth House works to meet the needs of their community. In response to the murder of George Floyd they created a “Finding the Truth on Fridays” series that brings people together to share stories on the impacts of racism and encourage them into action. Sister Peg made sure to remind viewers, especially white viewers that, “the only Gospel some people ever read is that of our lives. We have to be actively fighting against racism in whatever form it takes.”
Late in the afternoon the Nuns on the Bus made their second site visit in Arlington Virginia with The Dream Project. Sister Simone was joined by Dr. Emma Violand-Sanche, Dream Project Founder and Chair, Lizzette Arias, Dream Project Executive Director, Belinda Passafaro, a Dream Project Case Manager, and Daniel, a Dream Project alumni.The Dream Project as founded in 2011 and empowers students whose immigration status creates barriers to education by working with them to access and succeed in college through scholarship, mentoring, family engagement, and advocacy building. Since its founding it has grown from providing 4 scholarships a year to 100 per year.
The conversation highlighted the importance of creating a community that is willing to shift gears and adapt to the uncertainty of Federal policy decisions. Both Emma and Belinda emphasized the traumatic consequences that come with an Administration that creates uncertainty around ICE, deportations, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Dream Project is mindful of its advocacy because, as Emma stated, “the cruelty of these policy decisions is felt by the people. We need to remember that these are someone’s daughter, or brothers, and parents. This is the time we need to vote and remember that our votes matter.”
While the Sojourner Truth House and the Dream Project are divided by geographic region and provide different types of service to different types of clients, both organizations recognize the impact policies, such as a rent moratorium, have on their clients and are actively organizing to ensure that those in power are listening to their voices.