On September 21, more than one hundred immigrant supporters gathered at the Whittemore House in Washington, D.C. for Ayuda’s 50th Anniversary Welcome Breakfast, Breaking Bread to Break Barriers. As always, the Ayuda family showed up ready to unite for immigrant support.  

Ayuda Staff Attorney Julia Rigal addresses a full room of event attendees.

Each year, Ayuda invites our community to enjoy free breakfast and hear updates on the impact of our programs, the current needs of our immigrant neighbors, and how we can make a difference together. Thanks to Call Your Mother Deli for donating the tastiest bagels we could ask for to the event! 

Thanks to our amazing community, Ayuda has been able to expand our culturally-specific services over the last several years. Executive Director Paula Fitzgerald gave event guests an overview of how the impact of our legal, social, and language access services has grown to support over 3,000 individuals and over 100 nonprofits in 2022.  

Since last April, many of the immigrants we’ve supported have been asylum seekers bused from the border, or those that have traveled from other US cities to seek safety. Our Supervising Case Manager Kirstie Sippola discussed how we’ve continued to ensure that newly arrived migrants have food, comfortable clothing and shoes, hygiene basics, and referrals to any services they might need. Survivors have been able to join monthly group therapy sessions, allowing them to create relationships with their peers in a new city. 

Beyond our social services, Staff Attorney Julia Rigal detailed the expansion of Ayuda’s legal orientations. We are now also working with asylum seekers to apply for parole-based work permits – their key to lawful employment. Julia reported that as of September 21, Ayuda has helped migrants file 88 applications to secure this work permit. 

Event attendees also heard about our newest program from Advocacy Manager Sandra Benavente, who announced Ayuda’s upcoming Community Advisory Council. The Council will unite community members with lived experience as low-income immigrants and elevate their voices in policy discussions.  

The highlight of the event was hearing from Ayuda Client Zoila, who immigrated from Honduras in 2003 seeking a better life for herself and her kids. She spoke of struggling with her mental health after surviving domestic violence in early 2022. Since working with Ayuda for the last year and a half, she’s felt healthier and more secure – a change so clear that her daughters even took notice.  

Twenty years after arriving in the U.S., Zoila still has big dreams for herself and her kids. And it is our honor to be at her side as she works on opening a food truck, and as her eldest daughter works toward a degree from Georgetown University. 

We’re grateful to Zoila for sharing her story with our community, as well as to our board members Agnes Buanya (CareFirst) and Hans Manzke (the Clearing) for lending their voices to our program.  

Thanks to all who attended Ayuda’s 2023 Welcome Breakfast! 

  • Ayuda client Zoila onstage with Interpreter Talya Blazia
  • Two Ayuda team members hug
  • Ayuda Client Zoila smiles
  • Board member Agnes Buanya speaks at a lectern.
  • Ayuda team member Berta smiling at a table
  • Ayuda Board Member Hans Manzke stands at a lectern
  • Staff Attorney Julia Rigal addresses large crowd at the event.

A special thanks to Pepe Gomez, Pixelme Studio for shooting the event!