Dear Trinity Family,
In the past year, more than 116,000 asylum seekers have come to New York City, with 10,000 more arriving monthly, including an increasing number of families. Their arrival has been the subject of a constant barrage of news and noise, and meeting the needs of this growing community may seem an overwhelming — if not impossible — task. But it’s not. In fact, it’s the very work we’re here to do.
At Trinity Church Wall Street, we remain steadfast in our commitment to caring for our neighbors, no matter where they’ve come from or how long they’ve been here. Our faith demands we welcome and serve the stranger; in doing so, we welcome and serve God.
Since November, Trinity has served 240,000 meals to asylum seeker families through our Compassion Meals program and the network of food pantries we support across the city. We’ve directly distributed clothing, hygiene kits, and other necessities to community-based nonprofits, schools, and hotels serving asylum seekers in our Lower Manhattan neighborhood.
At Trinity Commons, we’ve developed free programs to equip our new neighbors for life in the city, including English language classes, workforce development courses, legal workshops, and more. We’ve translated materials for our youth afterschool programs into many languages, so everyone can join. We’re developing new ways to serve younger children and their parents — arts and crafts sessions, for example — as they adjust to their new surroundings.
Since the summer of 2022, Trinity Church has awarded more than $2.2 million in grants to 22 nonprofits providing services and shelter to asylum seekers across our city. Trinity grantees Women in Need (WIN), Providence House, and Coalition for the Homeless are ensuring our neighbors are fed and have full MetroCards. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), and The Interfaith Center of New York are working with faith-based organizations and houses of worship to provide emergency shelter. The Girl Scout Council of Greater New York has expanded Troop 6000, its program for homeless youth, to include young asylum seekers. And African Communities Together is providing $500 gift cards and smartphones, as well as advocating for critical access to language services and space for prayer.
A coalition of more than 200 faith and lay leaders and institutions, led by Trinity grantees The Interfaith Center and the New York State Council of Churches, has developed a covenant that lays out policy recommendations and pledges to work with government to meet the needs of our new neighbors quickly, strategically, and with love. We’re not alone in this work. Many individual New Yorkers and New York nonprofits have responded with generosity and commitment.
Jesus instructed his disciples to feed the hungry and welcome the stranger. And now that is our task, too. Despite all that divides and distracts us, our lives are interconnected, inextricably bound. Our flourishing is collective, and our destiny is determined by how we show up for one another in the world today.
The Rev. Phillip A. Jackson