Grassroots Leadership organization runs a volunteer visitation program that matches women detained at the Hutto Detention Center with visitors from our local community. Visitors go out to the center and meet one-on-one or in small groups, sharing friendship and solidarity with women requesting this. Talk to the women directly impacted by gender based violence, international affairs and immigration policies to hear their stories and perspectives.
Most of the women in the detention center are teachers, mothers, community members, students, just like you and me. They are also asylum seekers escaping persecution at the hands of gangs, traffickers, and abusers. Many are extremely isolated, with either no friends or family close enough to come, or no one with the documentation to be able to visit. The goals of our program are to serve as human rights observers in the center, to end the isolation of detention, and to create advocates for closing the detention system.
The vast majority of women detained at Hutto are Spanish speakers, as are our volunteers, though other language speakers are also welcome and needed. With those who aren't yet at a conversational bilingual-speaking level the way we handle it is you are welcome to be volunteers - we know you have much to contribute - as long as you can arrange interpretation. That person would come to a training as well, and you would then do partnered visits with another volunteer who agrees to interpret while also being an active visitor. The expectation is that you'll be the one taking the initiative in finding this partnership, since we don't have the capacity to coordinate interpretation.We have many teams like this.
How frequently volunteers visit varies widely depending on their availability. We ask for a once a month commitment (some volunteers go out weekly or bi-weekly). The detention facility is open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm, and is located in Taylor, TX, about 45 minutes from Austin. Volunteers are welcome to set their own schedule after they go out the first time with a mentor. Volunteers can also communicate by email and letters, if they choose to. Women can be in the detention center anywhere from 2 to 8 months, on average, so relationships are long-lasting.
We hope you'll be able to join us! Please come out to the orientation and learn more about this volunteership to see if it's the right fit. RSVP Here: https://grassrootsleadership.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/event/info?id=143&reset=1