Lorain County residents will travel to Washington, D.C., for Saturday’s “Families Belong Together” rally, thanks in part to a stipend from the YWCA.
The YWCAs of Elyria and Lorain applied for a stipend from YWCA USA, receiving $2,500 to help fund a bus trip for residents in Northeast Ohio to attend the rally. Jeanine Donaldson, executive director of the Lorain YWCA, said they were not surprised to be one of the few YWCAs to receive the stipend, as the Hispanic community in the area is very active.
“We felt strongly that because of how active our Hispanic community is here in Lorain County and (has) both a blend of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans that it was important to have them present at this rally,” she said. “And the YWCA was just happy to be allies in their struggle for immigration rights.”
YWCA USA is providing stipends to chapters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and North Carolina, said Samantha Davis, field engagement manager for YWCA USA.
“What we wanted to do was provide support for local associations that we know have been doing work with immigrant families and communities who were in a close enough proximity to D.C. to get here and had the ability to mobilize their community,” she said.
After Donaldson was notified of the stipend Tuesday night, organizers had about a day and a half to mobilize community members, said Lorain Councilman Angel Arroyo, D-6th Ward. Since then, they have managed to fill all 56 seats on the bus.
The group also has received donations from the Lorain County Democratic Party and Oberlin NAACP to help pay for the trip. The bus costs $4,000 and parking is $100, Donaldson said. Any extra costs will be covered by the Lorain YWCA, making the trip free for attendees.
Lorain County Community College and United Way of Greater Lorain County’s WE3 Collaborative donated food for the approximately seven-hour ride.
Donaldson will not be going to D.C.; she gave up her seat so others in the community can go.
Arroyo will be joining other community organizers and families including children affected by the recent immigration raids in Ohio for the bus trip.
The bus will leave El Centro, 2800 Pearl Ave., at 10 p.m. Friday, travel to the Hispanic Alliance in Cleveland about 11:30 p.m. to pick up more people, and then drive overnight to Washington, D.C.
Donaldson encourages community members, even those not taking the trip, to meet at El Centro about 9 p.m. Friday to send off the rally participants.
In addition to the D.C. rally, there will be sister rallies across the country Saturday morning, all demanding the Trump administration reunite migrant families immediately, end family detention and end its controversial “zero-tolerance policy.” Rallies are planned across Ohio, including in Ashland, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Norwalk and Oberlin.
For those who have never been to a rally and will be attending one Saturday, Davis said attendees will be given signage, snacks and plenty of water to make it through the expected 90-plus degree heat.
“There is going to be, I imagine, a beautiful, powerful sea of individuals who are united and standing in solidarity to really protect and support these families,” she said. “So while there will be a mixed bag of emotions, I hope that there will be a sense of unity, I hope that they (attendees) will be re-energized and reinvigorated and I hope that they will leave knowing that their efforts are being heard and putting pressure on the administration to make specific change.”