I ran the 2018 New York City Marathon in honor of my grandmother, Ethelina Jasper, 1909-2011. She was a truly incredible woman.
I invite you to join me in celebrating my first marathon, in rememberence of her first journey to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor immigrant, by offering support to the Immigration & Legal Services of Lutheran Social Services of New York.
Although she came to the U.S. before women (or most persons of color), could vote, after her naturalization Ethelina Jasper voted in every election through 2008, when she cast her ballot in the national general election at the age of 99. She married and raised 2 children in New York City, where she was a working mother, first in factories and later spending years in social services. At the end of her career, when she retired from the Salvation Army, she went on to volunteer as a foster grandparent at the New York Foundling Home, where, for 32 years she worked 20 hours a week caring for abandoned children, who had profound disabilities, were born addicted to drugs, and infants born with HIV/AIDS.
When she died in 2011, a few months shy of her 103rd birthday, she was survived by her own biological children, 12 grandchildren and great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews and their children, and hundreds of children she cared for as a foster-grandparent. She was a fantastic cook, a sharp wit, a lover of music, well read, generous, and loving.
Her story began in January 1909, born Etheline Brown in what was then known as the British West Indies. In 1920, after her mother had died, her father sent her to join some of her older siblings, who had already immigrated to the U.S. She was sent on a ship to Canada then a train to New York, where like so many before and after, she began her American journey, an immigrant and an child, and alone.
Lutheran Social Services of New York and immigration services:
Since 1886, Lutheran Social Services of New York has supported vulnerable individuals, families and communities – including immigrants – as they strive to reach their full potential. The Immigration Legal Program (ILP) has provided representation, legal advice and community outreach to many immigrants and refugees across New York City. The ILP represents applicants seeking political asylum, family-based immigration status, citizenship, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Temporary Protected Status, relief under the Violence Against Women Act, and U visas for survivors of crime. It also defends immigrants in deportation proceedings. ILP represents immigrants seeking protection from persecution and violence, families seeking reunification and aspiring U.S. Citizens from all over the world.
The Safe Haven program provides follow-up case management services to minors who arrive in the country, without parents or guardians and who have been released to qualified sponsors in the New York Metropolitan area, pending their immigration court proceedings. Lutheran Social Services of New York will continue to advocate on behalf of all people, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, national origin or religion.
A bit about me:
Many of you know that I am the chairperson of the board of directors of Lutheran Social Services of New York (LSSNY). I am committed to the people it serves and the services that it provides.
The New York City Marathon is one of the largest sporting events in the world, and I would like to take my tiny part of it and raise awareness and resources for the needs of the people LSSNY serves.
A marathon can be a challenge for the most fit of us and I am not a person in that category. I trained for a very long time, overcame some serious injuries, and it still a long, hard slog.
So why did I torture myself? I think of it as rising to the challenge. If staff can rise to the challenge to met complex emergent legal and social needs of LSSNY immigration clients, I believed I could met the challenge of this run. If LSSNY clients can migrate from across the globe to our great nation and our fair city, I could run across the 5 boroughs. They do. And I did!
I am excited about it! It was a moment for me, as an ordinary person, to do something extraordinary.
Join me! Please pledge your support to Lutheran Social Services!