John Grindler Katonah (co-chair, email@example.com): Former hospital chaplain/director, clinical spiritual care educator
Ignacio Alarcon (co-chair, firstname.lastname@example.org): Higher education professional and Undocumented community advocacy manager
Lane Suarez (treasurer): Bookkeeper, former Panama resident
Kary Shender (secretary): Educator, prison Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator
Rafael Espinoza: Former union representative/organizer
Sam Loomis: Physics graduate student, researcher, teacher
YIIN (the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network) is a group of people serving and advocating for immigrants in Yolo County. We believe that by working together we can make our community a better place for all of us to live and thrive.
YIIN is guided by requested needs of the immigrant communities based on what they deem essential necessities. While COVID-19 has affected everyone, it has most challenged those who do not have health insurance, unemployment insurance, and job security. When appropriate, we also advocate and support those who cannot speak for themselves including migrant workers, immigrant youth previously detained and those displaced by major fires. We have also assisted those caught up in immigration procedures who needed financial and legal support while seeking citizenship.
Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network (YIIN) is a small, grass-roots, 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, run by volunteers. YIIN began in 2008 with a group of Yolo County residents who came together to address immigration issues in our community. Initially, members came from Muslim, Jewish and Christian congregations; however, we were soon joined by others who had no faith affiliation but shared a concern for community building and social justice. There has never been any religious content to the programs YIIN offers.
From its inception in 2008, YIIN has had as its sole focus serving and advocating for our immigrant and migrant neighbors. In pursuit of that mission YIIN has developed programs for the families at the Davis and Madison Migrant Centers in Yolo County. In addition we buy grocery gift cards for the AB540 Center at UC Davis (resource center for undocumented students) and for Woodland Community College Food Pantry, where the cards are given to students in need. The $495 renewal fee for DACA applications is a barrier for many, and thus far YIIN has paid those fees for 36 individuals. YIIN continues to raise funds to meet those needs. We also sponsor educational programs to the general population regarding immigrant issues, in the knowledge that myths abound and we need to weave a stronger fabric of community understanding. For over 11 years, YIIN volunteers visited weekly with youth detained at the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility (“Yolo Juvenile Hall”).
YIIN has partnered with other community groups, agencies and individuals who work with immigrant issues. An important component of YIIN’s work has been to provide educational programs that offer the wider community information about policy issues surrounding immigration, discrimination and racism. YIIN has focused on putting a face to our many undocumented neighbors. For example, our annual fundraising dinners have featured undocumented young people telling their personal stories. YIIN has donated almost all the money raised at those dinners to provide financial aid to those applying for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) immigration status as well as for scholarships for undocumented students at UCD and Woodland Community College.
YIIN is a small organization with limited funds, and we are committed to seeking opportunities to work with others to make our community a place where all are welcome, and our diversity is celebrated.