October 2011

Open House!

Date: Sunday, November 13th

Time: 2:00-4:30 p.m.

Location: 5827 Columbia Pike, Suite 320

Falls Church, VA 22041

Contact: Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director,at (703) 979-1240 or rob@justneighbors.org

Join Just Neighbors Staff, Board, clients, volunteers, and surrounding community members for an informational and fun open house to celebrate fifteen years of service and expansion of our services and facilities. This is an informal event for the community to learn more about the work of the organization.

Client Story

As Just Neighbors celebrates fifteen years of partnership with Northern Virginia’s immigrant community, we look back on the story of a client we served for five years, from 2004-2009. Melissa recently shared her story at our anniversary celebration that took place this past Thursday.

When Melissa was a baby, her mom, Maria, made the painful choice to come to the United States to work so that she could provide for Melissa, leaving her with relatives back in Honduras. In 1999, after having lived here for several years, Maria gained lawful status in the United States through obtaining Temporary Protected Status (TPS) following the environmental disaster wrought by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras. Although she could work here legally, Maria was still unable to petition for Melissa to join her here.

After eighteen years of separation, Melissa came to the United States to be with her mom, whom she had never really known.

Melissa fled a dangerous situation in Honduras, entering the U.S. without papers. She had experienced threats to her life back home, and unfortunately she soon faced new forms of persecution here.

Two years after coming to the U.S., Melissa found Just Neighbors. We were able to take on her case and assist her through various laws available to certain immigrants on a humanitarian basis. Her case was long and complicated, but Melissa was a determined, grateful client. Finally, in 2009, she received her green card.

Melissa now holds a steady job at a hotel, and her English has become quite good. She is paying her way through community college and aspires to start her own business one day. Her mother also now has a green card, and both are happily and safely united here, at last.

Client Update

In July, we shared about a Vietnamese woman who needed to apply for her green card so that she could access affordable housing (see July story here). Thanks to the efforts of her volunteer attorney at Just Neighbors, she now has a place to live! Her green card has not yet arrived, but we expect it to come soon. She brought in Vietnamese sandwiches for the entire office as a thank-you, a very generous gift from a woman who had been homeless for several months. She came proudly dressed up to our anniversary celebration, smiling the whole time.

Volunteer of the Month

We would like to honor Nadiaa Ansari as our Volunteer of the Month for October. Nadiaa, who is enrolled in the Paralegal Studies Program at Northern Virginia Community College, has been helping Just Neighbors since August. Nadiaa helps do a bit of everything in the office, including phone intakes, and she is always willing to take on a new challenge. We are very fortunate to have her help.

Good-Bye

We are sad to say good-bye to our Staff Attorney Ana Corson, who joined us in June 2010. Ana’s husband accepted a job in Phoenix, where they have family. Ana has been a tremendous attorney for us, and filled in remarkably well at a time when we needed expertise and a quick-study. We will all miss her.

Fifteen Year Celebration

Photo by Mariapaz del Rio

On October 27th, Just Neighbors held an anniversary celebration generously hosted by Foley & Lardner law firm in DC, overlooking the Potomac. Over 100 people attended the event, including clients, Board and former Board, staff and former staff, volunteers and interns throughout our history, donors, and friends.

We recognized the three women who began Just Neighbors and whose vision and determination paved the way for our success: Janet Horman, Allison Rutland Soulen, and Helen Casey-Rutland. We also honored three volunteers whose contributions over the past four years have been instrumental to our growth: Adela Rivera, Bill Stuart, and Cynthia Ingersoll.

Bill Stuart, Adela Rivera, and Cynthia Ingersoll (Photo by Portia Lino)

Around the Office

From our new Social Work Intern Jeincy:

Hi Everyone! My name is Jeincy Paniagua and I am the newest addition to the Just Neighbors family. I am currently in graduate school and part of my MSW curriculum is to do a year-long practicum, which is how I came to Just Neighbors. From the moment that I heard about Just Neighbors and its mission I have been super excited.

Last year I served in AmeriCorps, working in rural Washington state with Hispanic and indigenous populations in the Community Health department of a small hospital, doing patient advocacy work and linking resources to the community.

At Just Neighbors, I meet with clients who have self-identified as needing help accessing other services beyond the immigration legal assistance that we provide. I help with a variety of client issues, including housing, food stamp and Medicaid applications, and DMV issues. One of my main goals during my eight months here is to create a sustainable social work program for future interns and volunteers so we can keep helping the community with their basic needs. I am very grateful for this opportunity, and am eager to learn and to educate others about the social work profession.

Just Neighbors Primary Signature-Reverse-01

The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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