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For Immediate Release
April 25, 2017

Washington, D.C. – The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation announced a challenge grant of $5,000 to spur additional giving to Ayuda. Any donation to Ayuda, including a ticket purchase or sponsorship to attend Ayuda’s 44th Anniversary Celebration, can be used to match the challenge grant.

“We hope that this challenge grant spurs more giving to support Ayuda’s critical work,” says Debbi Lindenberg, program officer at the Cafritz Foundation.

“Ayuda is grateful to the Cafritz Foundation for its generous and longstanding support of our mission, and for this timely $5,000 challenge grant. Donors who rise to the challenge will join a remarkable community of leaders and residents from across the DMV. We thank the foundation for its vision and for valuing Ayuda’s work on behalf of low-income immigrants seeking justice,” says Paula Fitzgerald, executive director.

Ayuda’s 44th Anniversary Event will take place on May 16, 2017, at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in downtown Washington, D.C. from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. For more information, contact Sarah Block at (202) 387-4848 ext. 143 or at sarah@ayuda.com.

About Ayuda

Ayuda is a 501(c)(3) legal, social, and language access provider that helps vulnerable low-income immigrants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia stop abuses and improve their lives. With 44 years of experience and a highly motivated and skilled team, Ayuda secures justice and vital resources for immigrant individuals and families. As a national leader, Ayuda shares innovations that increase the capacity of providers and systems throughout the United States. Ayuda regularly fields inquiries from attorneys, advocates, and officials residing around the world who want to learn more about our relentless, dignified approach that helps immigrants save and rebuild their lives.

About the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation is the largest private, independent, local foundation focused exclusively on the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The Foundation is the legacy of Morris Cafritz, one of Washington’s leading commercial and residential builders from the early 1920s to the mid-60s. In the last 10 years, the foundation has awarded $185 million to more than 961 organizations in the areas of community services, arts and humanities, education, health and the environment. The Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for residents of the Washington, DC area.

For Immediate Release

April 4, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) will accept Ayuda’s 2017 Impact Award at its 44th anniversary event on May 16, 2017. Ayuda is pleased to honor the congressman for his exemplary legislative achievements and advocacy supporting immigrants.

Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he is a Senior Whip for the Democratic Caucus, the Vice-Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and the Freshman representative to the Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration. Raskin has been a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law for 25 years and prior to his time in Congress, he was a Maryland State Senator.

“As a Maryland state senator and now as a freshman house representative, Congressman Raskin has proven to be a staunch supporter of immigrants in Maryland and the nation. He champions sound immigration policy—and literally stands with the immigrant community in defense of their civil rights, as he did at Dulles Airport in January 2017. Ayuda is proud to recognize Jamie Raskin for his leadership and legislative impact,” says Paula Fitzgerald, executive director of Ayuda.

“I am honored to be recognized by Ayuda on the wonderful occasion of its 44th anniversary. Every day, Ayuda staff and volunteers wake up and go to work helping immigrants achieve basic opportunity and justice within their rights under law. At a time of a lot of chaos and fear, Ayuda offers a measure of certainty and hope to large numbers of people. It makes Maryland and our whole region stronger. On behalf of my District and our people, I will continue to advocate a core value of American democracy—that no refugee or immigrant should be denied entry to the United States because of religion or nationality—and to stand with immigrants who make our communities and nation stronger,” says Congressman Raskin.

 Ayuda’s 44th Anniversary Event will take place at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in downtown Washington, D.C. from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. For more information, contact Sarah Block at (202) 387-4848 ext. 143 or at sarah@ayuda.com.

About Ayuda

Ayuda is a 501(c)(3) legal, social, and language access provider that helps vulnerable low-income immigrants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia stop abuses and improve their lives. With 44 years of experience and a highly motivated and skilled team, Ayuda secures justice and vital resources for immigrant individuals and families. As a national leader, Ayuda shares innovations that increase the capacity of providers and systems throughout the United States. Ayuda regularly fields inquiries from attorneys, advocates, and officials residing around the world who want to learn more about our relentless, dignified approach that helps immigrants save and rebuild their lives.

For Immediate Release
March 28, 2017

Beyond the Headlines: Ayuda Celebrates Immigrant Lives
Key Leaders to Support Immigrants

Washington, D.C. – Ayuda will commemorate its 44th anniversary on May 16, 2017 by celebrating inclusion, diversity, and the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia immigrant community. The event will take place at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in downtown Washington, D.C. from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Maryland State Delegate David Moon, D.C. Councilmembers David Grosso and Brianne Nadeau, and Takoma Park Councilmember Peter Kovar, among others, will be in attendance to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of immigrants in our community.
The event begins with A Conversation on Immigration moderated by C-SPAN’s Steve Scully. Confirmed panelists include: Paula Fitzgerald, executive director, Ayuda; Sandra Grossman, partner, Grossman Law, LLC; Lynden Melmed, partner, Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP; Julia Preston, former New York Times national immigration correspondent; Paul Wickham Schmidt, federal immigration court judge (retired); and J. Walter Tejada, former Arlington County Board chair.
“Every day, Ayuda stands with immigrants as they seek to exercise their rights and access justice. On the occasion of Ayuda’s 44th anniversary, we celebrate the lives of immigrants whose presence and many positive contributions make our region stronger,” says Paula Fitzgerald, executive director.

Ayuda will also honor Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP and the DC Bar Foundation for their exceptional commitment to furthering Ayuda’s mission.
For more information, contact Sarah Block at (202) 387-4848 ext. 143 or at sarah@ayuda.com.

About Ayuda
Ayuda is a 501(c)(3) legal, social, and language access provider that helps vulnerable low-income immigrants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia stop abuses and improve their lives. With 44 years of experience and a highly motivated and skilled team, Ayuda secures justice and vital resources for immigrant individuals and families. As a national leader, Ayuda shares innovations that increase the capacity of providers and systems throughout the United States. Ayuda regularly fields inquiries from attorneys, advocates, and officials residing around the world who want to learn more about our relentless, dignified approach that helps immigrants save and rebuild their lives.

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2016 – Ayuda hosted its Welcome Breakfast on September 21 as its preeminent outreach program to community partners, civic leaders, and philanthropists in the Washington region. Sponsored by AmeriHealth Caritas DC, the event included more than 200 guests. WAMU’s senior reporter, Armando Trull, served as master of ceremonies.

 Live and video testimonials by former Ayuda clients provided vivid and gripping narratives about the plight of refugees and low-income immigrants whom Ayuda serves. Moussa, from Senegal, spoke of his experience as a domestic violence survivor. Sandra, from El Salvador, narrated the challenges she faced in trying to enroll for college. Julius, from Rwanda, recounted post-genocide violence that wrought immense personal havoc – witnessing friends and family die, attempts on his own life and despairing for his wife and children. The audience was visibly moved by their stories, which mercifully had joyful endings with Ayuda’s help.

 “Your breakfast event was very moving. It’s good to be reminded of how others are suffering around the world and that we all have an opportunity to affect change,” remarked a guest.

Armando Trull added that the migrant crisis happening in D.C.’s backyard is “the second worse migrant crisis after the Syrian refugee crisis.” He described the tens of thousands of Central American immigrants that have fled their home country due to gang violence and impoverished living situations.

Paula Fitzgerald, executive director of Ayuda, spoke of critical unmet needs because of limited capacity. “Ayuda is able to accept approximately 25 client appointments a day, but turn away 40 more daily. This organization feels a moral responsibility to help those in need and not to turn them away.”

Ayuda thanks guests for volunteering to promote Ayuda, making generous donations, and offering to provide pro bono services to help Ayuda build additional opportunities to serve more.

The Welcome Breakfast also showcased a new Ayuda video and engaged guests in small group discussions. The event raised more $18,000 from individual donors. Ayuda extends its profound gratitude.

Click here for the Welcome Breakfast photo gallery

Click here for media coverage of the event

Paula Fitzgerald

Ayuda’s Board of Directors Appoints Virginia Office’s Managing Attorney as Interim Executive

Washington, DC – Effective Monday, February 8, 2016, Paula Fitzgerald, Ayuda’s managing attorney for the Virginia office, will serve as interim executive director of Ayuda. This follows the departure of Ryan Dowd, who served as Ayuda’s executive for 14 months. Dowd resigned from Ayuda to return to his hometown Chicago for family medical reasons.

Paula Fitzgerald has been practicing immigration law for over ten years. Paula joined Ayuda in 2008 and helped build Ayuda’s Virginia office. Paula’s immigration legal work focuses on humanitarian relief, including VAWA self-petitions, U visas, T visas, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions. She is also experienced in family-based immigration matters, consular processing, waivers and NACARA cases. She serves on the Fairfax County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. Prior to Ayuda, Paula worked as an immigration attorney at Hogar Hispano and Hunton & Williams LLP. Paula received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004.

The Board of Directors has formed a Search Committee to work with the Non-Profit Advisory Group (NPAG) as search consultants.

“We thank Ryan Dowd for his exemplary service these past 14 months and wish him and his family well. We also thank Paula for agreeing to serve as interim executive director of Ayuda. Her deep knowledge of Ayuda gives us confidence that Ayuda will transition smoothly and meet our organizational goals this year,” said Diego Marquez, chair of the Board.

For more information, contact Sarah Block at (202) 387-4848 ext.143 or at sarah@ayuda.com.

Interested in representing victims of notario/legal services fraud, who lose time, money, and sometimes immigration status because of a non-attorney’s actions?

If so, Ayuda welcomes attorneys to a PRO BONO TRAINING: Seeking Justice for DC, MD & VA Immigrant Victims of Notario/Legal Services Fraud.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at Bryan Cave LLP 1155 F St. NW – 7th Floor Washington, DC 20004

Registration: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7XJNZ63

Pro Bono Training

By: Clarissa Arevalo, Domestic Violence Staff Attorney

 Annette and her children came to Washington D.C. when her husband – a member of the military of a country in central Africa – was posted to the embassy. Already a violent man, he became even more violent in the United States, but he was protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. Ayuda’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault team was able to help where the police could not. First, after a contentious trial, we secured a civil protective order (“restraining order”) for Annette and her children. Later, Ayuda handled Annette’s divorce and custody case.

The violence had escalated to the point where, on one occasion, Annette’s husband smashed her head into a heater and threw her across the room. Annette was certain he was going to kill her. Their daughter called the police, but they could do nothing because of his diplomatic status. Fortunately, the next time the police were called, an officer suggested that Annette talk to an organization like Ayuda about getting a protective order.

The trial was difficult, but Annette was brave, and her Ayuda attorney was fearless. And in the end, she won both the protective order and the eventual divorce! Asked how her life has changed, Annette said, “I have never been as happy and free as I am now. And my children are so happy because our home is safe and peaceful. I am so glad I met with the staff at Ayuda!”

Attorney Rwanda Campbell provides pro bono service and helps Estella rebuild her life.

Arnold & Porter’s Rwanda N. Campbell has been a pro bono attorney with Ayuda for three years, representing clients seeking U Visas, which helps undocumented victims of crime gain legal status in the United States through their cooperation with law enforcement. Her first client is Estella from Ecuador, whose boyfriend nearly killed her. Campbell helped Estella escape the violence and rebuild her life: “Ayuda has allowed attorneys to connect with these strong and brave women who persevere through hardship for a better life.”

In 2012, I attended a pro bono immigration training session at Arnold & Porter led by Ayuda. The training focused on the U Visa process. Within a few months, I met with my first U visa client, Estella.

Estella was shy, with a quiet demeanor. She smiled often, but her eyes were filled with sadness. Over the course of several meetings, we often cried together as she told in detail the journey of her life, which led her to bravely travel to the United States from her native Ecuador in order to seek a better life for her three young children she had to leave behind with family.

While working, Estella met a man who would later become her abuser. Initially the relationship was wonderful as he supported and provided for all of her needs. Things quickly deteriorated when the physical violence towards her became a daily occurrence. Estella hoped things would change after having their first child, but the violence continued throughout her second pregnancy and well afterwards. An escalation of violence one night led to Estella’s two-night stay in the hospital after her boyfriend attempted to kill her. This final incident provided Estella with a newfound determination to escape from this horrific situation.

With the help of Ayuda, Estella successfully filed charges against her abuser, and testified against him at trial. Her cooperation with law enforcement allowed me to file a U Visa application for Estella and her children. We are still waiting on the approval of her U Visa, but have since received Estella’s work permit, which has opened up a whole new world for Estella and her family. Thanks to Ayuda, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Estella.

The partnership that Arnold & Porter has with Ayuda has allowed many attorneys to help and connect with these strong and brave women who persevere through hardship for a better life. The experience is both beneficial and enriching to all parties involved. I am thankful for these life changing work opportunities provided by organizations like Ayuda.