Winter 2022 Newsletter
Holy Cross Ministries (HCM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing health, education and justice services to families in Utah regardless of race, religion, income or any other defining characteristic. We hope you enjoy the following updates and stories about our work this winter.

For more news, program information and winter updates, check out our website and follow us on social media!
Education Programming Spotlight
With the support of HCM's education staff, HCM Therapist Sister Veronica Fajardo, CSC, started a pilot program with children and families in HCM’s Education Department called Niños Por La Paz ("Children for Peace") – a collaboration with Sister Patricia Rodriguez Leal, CSC.
 
Niños Por La Paz was initiated by Sister Patricia in 2010 at Nuestra Madre Santisima de la Luz Parish in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon Mexico. The goal of the program is to develop a Niños Por La Paz partnership between Mexico and the United States while using the PeaceWorks Curriculum from the Peace Education Foundation. This curriculum supports children and their families, helping them to know themselves better, appreciate who they are and their self-worth, connect with others, work to resolve conflicts, and care for their planet while promoting peace.
 
“The children are embracing the concepts of listening to each other and learning that hands are for helping and not hurting. They have begun to draw pictures and share with the group how their hands are helping them or how they can also help their friends and parents at home,” says Sister Veronica. With the help of the education team on November 17, 2021, Sisters Veronica and Patricia led their first Zoom call with children from Mexico and HCM's School Readiness children. On December 13, 2021, they led their first Zoom discussion with School Readiness parents in the U.S. and parents in Mexico.

Sister Veronica leads 20-minute sessions with students in the School Readiness Program every Wednesday and is collaborating with HCM's Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program Coordinator to organize three sessions for PAT parents too. These parent sessions teach parents and grandparents to promote peace in their homes and communities and reinforces the concepts their children are learning.
Health Programming Spotlight
Romina*, her husband Mario*, and their six children were referred to one of HCM’s Promotoras/Community Health Workers (CHWs) this winter. Romina was a stay-at-home mom until her husband suffered a car accident that left him out of work for three months.

Due to unexpected events, Romina started a housekeeping job to keep the income flowing while her husband was in recovery. Six months after recovering from his injuries, Mario decided to open a bakery with a friend. Romina then quit her job to take care of their children as it would cost more for daycare than what they would earn from the bakery. After a few months, money for rent and food became insufficient.

HCM’s CHW started the process for health insurance and Supplemental Nutrition Program Assistance (SNAP) enrollment after learning that their children didn’t have active health insurance. Unfortunately, due to the family’s income exceeding the threshold for food assistance, they were not able to qualify for SNAP. We then referred the family to several food pantries and helped them register for a food box delivery every week from the Food Crisis Program. 

Shortly after qualifying for Medicaid, the family tested positive for COVID-19. Romina ended up in the hospital for a week, and one of her children was hospitalized for over three weeks. With Mario and Romina unable to work, HCM’s CHW placed an application for rent and utility assistance. This application was approved and Romina and her family are thankful for the assistance HCM provided because it went beyond their basic needs of medical aid. Their bakery is still running, and they have had fewer financial struggles. Romina is grateful to have the support of our organization and partners and feels more hopeful for her family here in Utah.
Justice Programming Spotlight
“It is no small thing what we were able to do for someone who was broke and had left an abusive relationship," says HCM's Immigration Services Attorney, Noah Barnes. Approvals for immigration documents have been taking a long time recently, which is affecting many people’s lives. Work permits can take over six months to a year before being approved, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petitions are taking two years for approval, and green card applications are taking a minimum of 13 months and sometimes close to two years for approval.

Sandra’s* spouse filed a family petition, green card application, and work permit for Sandra in the fall of 2020. After incidents of abuse, Sandra decided to leave her relationship and came to HCM to file a VAWA self-petition for legal status. A year after her spouse filed the petition for her, Sandra had no money and was not authorized to work in the United States until her green card application and work permit were approved.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scheduled Sandra for her green card interview early and well before her VAWA application was completed. Since Sandra and her spouse separated, her green card application was going to be denied since it was based on her marriage. The denial of her green card meant she would have to wait an additional six months to a year for another work permit, and it would be about three years before she obtained a lawful permanent resident card. Having a strong VAWA case, Noah had an opportunity to salvage documents that were previously filed for Sandra and finished her VAWA package to be substituted for the family petition that was filed in 2020. While this VAWA self-petition is still being processed, Sandra no longer must refile previous applications, cutting down on the time it will take her to get her green card.

Noah was able to help Sandra get her work permit only two months after her VAWA petition was submitted. If it wasn’t for HCM's swift action on Sandra’s case, she would have had to wait another six to eight months on top of her already year-long wait in order to earn money to be able to support herself. This was a big victory for someone who needed one.
Legal Immigration Staff Update
Ingrid Golon has become a Department of Justice (DOJ) Representative! Ingrid started working with HCM in 2020 as a Paralegal and later in the year she sent in her request for DOJ accreditation. She is grateful for the growth and opportunity to expand her knowledge and help the community HCM serves. She is also excited to begin the second part of her training to be able to do intakes and more.
Lorena Cardenas was promoted to Paralegal! Lorena started as an HCM client receiving legal immigration assistance. When she noticed the difference legal assistance can make in a person’s life, she decided to pay it forward by majoring in paralegal studies to be better equipped to help. Lorena is happy to be in a position where she can help others receive assistance.
* In order to protect the privacy of those we serve, alternative names and images are used for HCM clients.