“All are welcome in this place.”
That is the motto of Immanuel Place, a community-based effort that provides hospitality and temporary housing for female detainees released from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington.
The motto is posted on a prominent banner in the entry hall, and is one of the first things guests see when they arrive at the house. Their guests are women from all over the world who spend anywhere from one night to several months at Immanuel Place as they seek legal protection and wait to hear about their asylum cases. Since the house opened in 2014, women from Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, China, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Afghanistan have found a welcoming place to stay as they prepare for the next steps in their lives.
Ursula Bannister is a volunteer at Immanuel Place, where she and other volunteers transport guests to medical and dental appointments, accompany them to immigration court hearings, and celebrate their victories together.
Using resources such as the LIRS First Steps guidebooks, volunteers like Ursula are also able to help the women at Immanuel Place as they navigate the complex immigration system by providing important information on legal rights, responsibilities, and eligibility for services such as healthcare and education.
Ursula walks with these women in the midst of unpredictable times in their lives. We “hold them close and pray for them in times of uncertainty,” she says.
A welcoming community and place to stay make a big difference in the lives of people who have fled violence and are seeking safety in a new country. Ursula and the Immanuel Place volunteers make a lasting impact on each woman who has been welcomed into that home.