Lynnewood UMC school district partnership includes supporting DACA students

September 30, 2021 | by Admin

Lynnewood UMC school district partnership includes supporting DACA students

Image credit: Chalkbeat

When Pastor Jennifer Murdock arrived at Lynnewood UMC in 2020, community was hard to come by. Locked down and in the midst of the pandemic, getting to know people in and around Lynnewood was challenging for a newly assigned pastor to say the least.

Pastor Jenn has a passion for supporting families and was happy to discover the Community Connection Partnership (CCP), an organization that bridges groups and individuals to the Pleasanton Unified School District for engagement and support.  "Sometimes it is hard to build relationships with school districts, so when I discovered CCP I was excited to respond to any opportunity that arose.  It is a rare gift to find something already in place to make supporting local schools and families simple. I wanted PUSD to know that Lynnewood was ready!" 

Initially,  eight Lynnewood UMC members offered to be 'on call' for whatever the needs would be. Those volunteers tutored students via zoom and helped families in need during Christmas.  And then in the spring of 2020, Pleasanton USD social workers said that they needed help supporting students who were applying for DACA.  Few of those gathered responded. Yet, when the request was brought back Lynnewood, they said they'd do their best to respond, although no one was really sure what their support would look like. 

Although the laws have changed since, in 2020 first time applicants were being accepted and processed. Once approved and under temporary protection, DACS students must renew their applications and work authorizations (if applicable) every other year,  so the burden on these students and their families was heavy. 

Attorney Scott Wilkinson, a San Francisco based business immigration and asylum lawyer who helps DACA students as part of his firm's commitment to immigrant communities, stated that the sheer amount of paperwork needed to apply can be a barrier for students seeking DACA protection.  Students must document that they have resided in the US since 2007 without interruption which requires past lease agreements, utility bills, proof of school enrollment and other documentation. Often young people move residences, living with multiple family members and the paper trail needed to reconstruct a 14 year history can be daunting. Once the paperwork is in order, application, court and attorney fees must be paid to complete the process. 

So, Pastor Jenn and the members of Lynnewood UMC decided to take a special offering for a month and take things from there. 

They raised $16,000. Then, they found an attorney to work with students at a reduced fee.

Although Pastor Jenn and Lynnewood UMC have no direct contact with the four students they've helped so far, the funds raised are making a difference in their lives and potential to remain in the US. They see this current effort as a potential model for ways other churches could partner with local school districts.