Event aims to support local immigrants as fear, misinformation rises around the nation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This weekend, you can hop on your bike and end up around the world.
It’s Integrated Community’s 24-Hour ‘Boat Cruise fundraising event, which starts on Friday, Sept. 13, and ends Saturday, Sept. 14, when participants pedal up to the seventh annual World Fiesta.
The fiesta, which honors cultures around the globe, features dancing, traditional dress, homemade food, pinatas, games and more.
“Last year, we even had police officers as the bartenders,” Nelly Navarro said with a laugh.
Navarro is the executive director of Integrated Community, a local, grassroots nonprofit that serves the immigrant population in Northwest Colorado.
The organization has been operating for 15 years and is the go-to resource for immigrant and non-English speaking families. Last year, they, along with over 130 local volunteers, helped 1,752 clients navigate areas such as medical, employment, housing, education and immigration processes.
The Fiesta is especially timely this year given the difficult conversations surrounding immigration in the United States.
“Given what’s happening nationally, we have locally seen a dramatic rise in fear, misinformation, stress, suicide risk, mistrust of law enforcement and the need to increase capacity for providing services to immigrants,” said Kristin Wilson, Integrated Community board president. “While we have seen service numbers dropping at some immigrant service organizations around the country, (Integrated Community’s) remain steady.”
The idea for the organization came during a Spanish/English conversational group meeting. At the time, it was one of the only places where Spanish-speaking residents could communicate with fellow community members. The number of immigrants in the Yampa Valley was quickly growing due to rising demands for workers, but they had little support within the community.
What: Integrated Community’s seventh annual World Fiesta
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1597 Lincoln Ave.
How much: $10 donation for adults, $5 for children. Food offerings from $1-5. Beer, wine and margaritas for $3.
More info: Visit ciiccolorado.org.
Today, Integrated Community’s services include early childhood and adult education, interpretation and translating programs and aid with the immigration process.
Integrated Community has been the only organization recognized by the Department of Justice in Northwest Colorado since 2016 to assist clients with their immigration needs, such as Deferred Action for childhood arrival renewals, travel passports, citizenship applications, residency renewals and family-based petitions.
Of the total clients Integrated Community served last year, 532 of those were documented individuals who needed help to keep their documentation current, to apply for their citizenship or other immigrations services, Navarro said.
“This is a testament to our organization and community’s willingness to support our neighbors, coworkers and friends, regardless of cultural or language differences,” she added.
It was a challenge to get clients to attend the fiesta as they often felt intimated participating in mixed events with English-speaking community members, according to Navarro. “Now, they all come and feel welcome and our challenge is to bring English speakers.”
The fun begins with the 24-Hour ‘Boat Cruise event in which teams participate in fundraising and biking for a 24-hour period to raise money for the organization. The bikers will end at the fiesta and be treated to homemade food from all over the world, entertainment, drinks and more.
“We believe it is now more important than ever for our community to take action and show support for our immigrant community,” Navarro said. “Please, come and show your support and join us for a chance to share and learn about cultural diversity in our community and be exposed to other cultures.
“We live in a special place where we have access to this.”
Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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