On June 3, the Portland nonprofit Hope Acts held Hope Rising, an Evening Celebrating and Supporting Hope Acts. The virtual event raised a total of $17,500 to support Hope Acts which provides transitional housing, English classes, and social services to asylum seekers and immigrants.

The event honored clients, volunteers, and partners of Hope Acts.

“I just like to see people being successful in their lives and continuing with this community,” said Cadeau A., a volunteer honored for assisting asylum seekers as they submit work permits.

Cadeau teams up with Amy T. every Wednesday to process work permits as part of Hope Acts’ ASAP, Asylum Seeker Assistance Program. The program is open to any asylum seeker needing help accessing services or understanding and completing documents.

Work permits are important because they allow asylum seekers to work in the US while awaiting a decision on their asylum case. They must be completed in English and can be denied for small errors. There is a lengthy waiting period after applying for asylum to submit a work permit

“Amy and Cadeau’s contributions are so significant because a work permit is the means for an asylum seeker to legally work in the U.S. Since Amy and Cadeau have so much experience in completing these applications, they can work efficiently to ensure the final product will meet the requirements of USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services” said Martha Stein, Executive Director of Hope Acts. “Amy and Cadeau along with Hope Acts staff and other volunteers put on their masks and provided in-person service throughout the pandemic.

Amy and Cadeau were honored for completing more than 500 work permits last year. Cadeau is an immigrant himself who holds two jobs in addition to volunteering at Hope Acts because he feels strongly about giving back. Amy works for Welcoming the Stranger, a grassroots project that matches mentors with asylum-seekers to help them integrate into the Greater Portland community.

Hope Acts also honored its all-volunteer English Language team for their work during the pandemic. Event attendees viewed video of James who reads the Sunday Maine Telegram and discusses current events with tutor Andrea McCall. Another video included teacher Sally Connolly and her student discussing the benefits and challenges of learning English via Zoom and WhatsApp.

Rep. Victoria Morales was honored for her work in addressing the housing crisis as Executive Director of Project HOME. Project HOME brings together landlords, housing readiness programs, and housing mentors, to support tenants who would otherwise be screened out of the tenant application process. Project HOME and Hope Acts have recently partnered to provide housing for asylum seekers during Maine’s housing crisis.

“It’s organizations like Hope Acts that are doing the hard work to provide stable housing day in and day out for those in need,” said Morales, “and it’s really important to note that Hope Acts does this work with the tried-and-true resource – that is often undervalued and unreported – the strength of our community relationships.”

In addition to honoring community members, Hope Rising featured video presentations showing the world of Hope Acts, a look back on the prior year of work, and a silent auction. Major sponsors included Infinity Credit Union, Town Fair Tire, Hannaford, MEMIC, Bernstein Shur, and Broadreach Public Relations.

“We are honored to sponsor Hope Rising and help support Hope Acts in their efforts of providing quality housing for new Mainers,” stated Jennifer Munroe, chief operating officer of Port Property, a sponsor of the event. “As longstanding partners of Project Home and the Quality Housing Coalition, we understand the vital importance of making home happen for those who need it most within our community, and are thrilled to celebrate Rep. Victoria Morales for her tireless efforts to this cause. This sponsorship reflects a shared commitment of providing equitable housing solutions and advocating for those who call Portland home. We look forward to continuing our support of Hope Acts’ mission in the future.”

Established in 2012, Hope Acts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit rooted in a strong belief that asylum seekers and immigrants deserve an opportunity to thrive in the U.S. Hope Acts has provided housing, English classes and other resources that support immigrants in transitioning to life in Greater Portland and in achieving their goals for a successful future. For more information, please visit hopeacts.org.