Social Action/Tikkun Olam

Tikkun Olam

Here at Agudas, we are dedicated to the principal of Tikkun Olam, or “Healing the World.” We offer many different opportunities to volunteer in the Austin Community. Please check out some of our current volunteer opportunities below.

Agudas Blue Barrel Project

SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone): The Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace have merged and are now SAFE. They provide shelter and counseling to primarily women and children who have suffered sexual assault and exploitation, child abuse or domestic violence. SAFE is currently having a drive to collect toiletries for their clients. Let’s fill the blue barrel with regular sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby wipes, body soap, deodorant, feminine care products, lotion, African-American hair care products, combs, brushes, razors, shaving cream and face wash. Click here for more information about SAFE.
 
Refugees: For now, we are only taking donations of HOUSEWARES due to space limitations. If you have space to store donated items or if you have a fairly large shed that can be used to store donations on the Murchison Middle School campus, please let Lea Isgur know (leaisgur@eartlink.net or 512-740-2187).
Did you know Agudas is a collection point for school supplies? Note if there is a particular organization or school that you’d like to contribute to, and we’ll try to accommodate. Otherwise, supplies will likely go to Foundation Communities or a similar type of non-profit.
If you have an organization to nominate to receive donations through Agudas’ blue barrel collections program, please let Lea Isgur know.

Other Tikkun Olam Opportunities

Drive a Senior: West Austin Drive a Senior is looking for volunteers to help transport individuals to doctor appointments, grocery stores, etc. If you have any time at all, they would appreciate any help they can get. Whether it be several times a week or just once a year, the need for drivers is great. If you drive and have a few hours or so periodically please sign up to volunteer!  If you have questions or to volunteer, please contact Steve Chodorow at ad_1nc@sbcglobal.net or Terry Milman at tcomingin@aol.com

Refugee Support: WE WERE STRANGERS ONCE

Asylum seekers – children, women, and men – are incarcerated in remote detention centers throughout Central and South Texas. In Taylor, Karnes City, Pearsall, Conroe, Lincoln, Pearsall, Laredo, and Alvarez, people who have fled their homes are locked up awaiting deportation proceedings.  Factors determining which people gain asylum include 1) the country of origin; 2) which judge is making the decision, and 3) whether the asylum seeker has legal representation or not.  The odds of gaining asylum are five times higher for people who are represented (http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/) but a great many asylum seekers are not represented at all.

The Austin office of Justice for Our Neighbors (a small, non-profit primarily supported by Methodist churches) invites Agudas Achim members and friends to join us in defense of asylum seekers, including both people currently detained and those who have been released from detention

Who seeks asylum?

Our current clients include the following people fleeing persecution at home:

 – A journalist from Sierra Leone in danger following publication of an article

– A gay man from Ghana

– Transgender people from Honduras

– Domestic violence survivors from El Salvador

– A campesino whose father and brothers have been murdered because the family wanted to continue to grow corn, squash, and beans – and refused to grow opium

– A political activist survivor from Honduras

– A Christian minister and family fleeing religious persecution in Cameroon

– Children targeted by gang members in Guatemala

– A Mexican woman kidnapped by the Zetas and then released on the condition that she work for them – who quit, and whose entire family is now in grave danger

If, and when, asylum seekers get out of detention, they face enormous obstacles and have great needs, especially because they are not allowed to work in the U.S. for a minimum of 6 months.  And there are only a handful of lawyers who represent asylum seekers in deportation proceedings.

YOU NEED NOT BE A LAWYER TO ASSIST.

You can conduct research on conditions in the asylum seekers’ countries of origin.

If you have access to electronic academic journals through the University of Texas or another institution, your help would be especially useful!

You could translate materials or interpret in confidential interviews.

Our greatest need is for Spanish and French translators and interpreters.

You could perform clerical tasks at the office between 1 and 5 pmMonday – Friday.

If you’ve ever used a copy machine or a scanner, or filed documents, we could use your help!

You could visit people in detention centers.

Warning:  a visit to Pearsall or Karnes could radically change your view of the U.S. system of justice.  Or such a visit could just change your life.

Lawyers, former lawyers, and law students could conduct legal research.

Do you have access to the expensive private databases such as LexisNexis or Westlaw —- that are beyond the budgets of small non-profits?  Would you help us out?

Please write Virginia Raymond, Legal Director at Austin Justice for Our Neighbors,

virginia@jfonaustin.org , if you would like to help.