Author Archives: Moderator

Dealing with Realities

The Guardian Group steering committee decided in May, 2018 to suspend its routine meetings and operation.

Guardian Group Getting Ready to March in Pride 2017First, the US government’s anti-refugee policy has stopped newcomers from coming to the Bay Area. The group last received a refugee client in July, 2017. While a trickle of other queer refugees – maybe two or three this year – have come to the Bay Area, the official volunteer agency (VOLAG) tasked with resettling them has placed all them in the East Bay.

That brings up the second reason the group has not had additional clients: the housing costs in San Francisco. Even with the very modest government benefits for refugees, it is very, very difficult to find places for newcomers to stay that fit their small budget. So, the VOLAG has relied on people in the East Bay who have volunteered to provide discounted housing for its few new clients. There haven’t been enough new refugees for the VOLAG to seriously try to locate refugee housing in San Francisco.

Moreover, attempting to help newly-arrived asylum seekers is beyond the capability of our small volunteer program. Asylum seekers receive no government assistance and are ineligible for public benefits (except for medical care in San Francisco). Our group feels that it would be misleading to offer help to asylum seekers when the costs of living cheaply in San Francisco still is well over $1,000 a month and our foreseeable donations and gifts total only a few thousand dollars for the year. We cannot responsibly offer to “support” a new asylum seeker arriving in San Francisco.

Rather than meeting while having no new people to help, the Guardian Group has decided to support its existing clients who still qualify for aid. We are ready to start meeting again as soon as our committee finds out newcomers are coming, housing is available, or donations are flowing in.

We have volunteers ready to reactivate the group when new refugees arrive.

But, for the moment, we will check in, mentor, and care about the 18 people we have met as refugees and asylum seekers since 2011.

We plan on celebrating at the church some individual refugee and asylum seeker success stories in the fall, and we give great thanks for the members and friends who have supported our clients with housing, financial donations, and love.

Thank You! You Gave $6,195!!

Faithify Funded noticeThe Guardian Group is very grateful to the many people who gave money to help LGBT refugees and asylum seekers settle in San Francisco.

You were very generous, and we promise to use the money wisely.

We set an ambitious goal of $5,000 at the urging of our Senior Minister, the Rev. John Buehrens. He said that members of our home Unitarian Universalist community, their friends, and other people of faith were sure to come through.

If we didn’t get $5,000 in pledges, we would get nothing.  That’s crazy, but we signed up for that!

And, you came through.  Thank you!

By the end of the campaign on the Fourth of July donors pledged $6,195. That’s 123.9% of our goal.

Thank you so much!

We Raise $5,000 or Get Nothing!

The Guardian Group has accepted a challenge to raise $5,000 by July 4th on the Unitarian Universalist crowdsourcing site, Faithify.

We need the money to continue to help LGBT refugees and asylum seekers settle in the San Francisco Bay Area.  When they first arrive we  buy our clients things like MUNI passes, cell service, and clothes for job interviews until they find a job and start supporting themselves. Refugees get $500/month for 8 months, but that does not cover their basic needs in high cost San Francisco

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work for six months, they get no government support, and cannot get routine medical care, unless they are San Francisco residents.

So the Guardian Group steps in and provides some basics when we can. Things like a bicycle helmet, emergency food money, and maybe a night at a hostel when a client’s boyfriend kicks him out without warning.

Recently we have been spending on average $4,500 for the client’s first year — that amount is more for asylum seekers and less for refugees.

We need help from beyond our mid-sized congregation if we are going to be able to continue to help newly arrived LGBT people in need.

To qualify for Faithify we have to agree that we either reach our goal, or our donors get their money back. So, it’s $5,000 or nothing!

Please help us help newcomers!  Click and Give on Faithify!

Thanks, Sisters

Pete and a Sister showing the donation check

Pete receives a big check from a Sister

 

The First Unitarian Universalist Society’s social justice volunteers who help LGBT refugees and asylum seekers settle in San Francisco were honored to receive a $1,000 check from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on Easter Sunday.

Thank you, Sisters.