St. Mary's Accompanies Venezuelan Asylum-Seeker
On Saturday, October 2nd, St. Mary’s migrant accompaniment team—comprised of Anne Williams, Nancy Clark, and Marcony Bolvito Grijalva—welcomed Rodnoel (Noel) José Arangueren-Flores to his new home in San Francisco. Noel is a 25 year-old man who fled political persecution in Venezuela to seek asylum in the United States. He entered the country at a Texas border crossing on September 19th and was housed at a “respite center” operated by Texas Border Sponsorship Forum in San Antonio. Because of a contact the St. Mary’s team made through the Episcopal Migration Ministry (EMM), Interfaith Welcome Coalition of San Antonio contacted the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI) in Oakland, who then contacted our Nueva Esperanza Accompaniment Team (NEAT), which is a partnership between St. Mary’s and Congregation Sherith Israel.
NEAT received the referral on Friday, September 25th. Another partner, New Anchor, which recruits, trains, and connects hosted housing for migrants, secured 3-6 month housing for Noel in the Inner Sunset. Thanks to the recent grant from Episcopal Impact Fund, we were able to book a direct flight to San Francisco. The St. Mary’s team picked up Noel at the airport, immediately secured his first COVID vaccination shot, and drove him to meet his host family. The team helped him secure clothing at Target and then took him to Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont, where he will quarantine until moving into his hosted housing on the 12th.
It was especially heartwarming to have Marcony Bolvito Grijalva join the St. Mary’s welcome team as interpreter. It was only two years ago that our team was formed in order to help Marcony obtain asylum and be released from Adelanto Detention Center. Over the past two years Marcony has become a treasured member of the St. Mary’s community and an active participant in our accompaniment work.
Although we do know that Noel will need legal counsel and will want to find work as soon as possible, other needs undoubtedly will surface as our friendship grows. The entire accompaniment team thanks St. Mary’s for its leadership and support in welcoming this new sojourner among us.