Advocacy + Outreach · October 21, 2022

How Fifth Avenue Is Helping a Growing Migrant Population

Migrants and asylum-seekers are arriving in New York in record numbers. We are mobilizing to meet their needs.

More than 18,000 migrants and asylum-seekers have arrived in New York City since April, many of them Venezuelans fleeing the economic collapse in their home country. The city’s shelter population is at a record level.

This influx of individuals and families in need has made its way to the doors of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. On Homecoming Sunday, pastors and staff responded quickly to help a Venezuelan family, newly arrived from Texas, who arrived in need of shoes and clothing.

Since then, the church has taken steps to mobilize volunteers to assist our rising client population, and to build up our inventory of clothing and supplies for migrants and homeless neighbors.

Volunteer Opportunities

Outreach Ministries welcomes Spanish-speaking volunteers to serve as mealtime companions to guests at A Place at the Table, our twice-weekly lunch program for homeless and hungry neighbors. Companions will be paired with Latin American guests to assist them in accessing resources from the church as well as social services. Mealtime companions will serve on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, starting at 1 pm.

Volunteers also are needed on Tuesday, Nov. 22, to distribute winter coats and shoes to our neighbors in need. The bountiful supply arrived this month from our nonprofit partner, Soles4Souls. You’ll find full details on the sign-up form. Or contact Christine Boyle, director of outreach and missions, at [email protected].

Christine has also identified a volunteer opportunity with the Asylum Seekers Navigation Center for anyone who wants to help with families or individuals who are in New York seeking asylum. Volunteers are needed to interact directly with clients (Spanish and other language skills highly desired), distribute food, clothing and supplies, and handle administrative tasks. Information is available at the Catholic Charities website.

Clothing and Supplies

Outreach staff have assembled drop-in bags to provide to individuals and families who arrive at times when Ecumenical Outreach staff are not available to assist them. Each bag contains a metro card, snack pack (including cheese, crackers and a protein bar), a mask and hand sanitizer, a water bottle, a vitamin C packet, and an invitation in Spanish that reads, “We have social workers who can help you. Come on Monday at 1 pm for lunch and support.”

As winter approaches, the outreach staff is laying in coats, socks, shoes and scarves to help our clients during the colder weather. We have sourced donated clothing from members and families of Fifth Avenue, Free Astoria and from neighboring congregations, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Saint Thomas Church, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and Church of the Transfiguration.

How’s the Family?

“Our Venezuelan family is acclimating to life in NYC,” Christine reports. “Both children are enrolled in school. The father has secured work, and the family was received at the Asylum Seekers Navigation Center to receive immigration and legal support.”

Watch for updates on this family and the many others we will serve in the coming months.