Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

PICC Featured Member

La Puerta Abierta works to empower youth and families through a peer-mentor training model to function as “first responders” in the local immigrant and refugee community and offers a bilingual, culturally and trauma-informed source of pro bono counseling support that is flexible and accessible. Over the many months that the pandemic has impacted our local and global communities, LPA has seen the consequences of intensified isolation of newcomer youth to our region. Housing and food insecurity, family stress and social disconnection has pulled more and more youth from academic engagement, especially in these days of virtual learning. During the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic and under the leadership of LPA’s youth coordinator, Tamara Jiminez, LPA’s youth mentor program, Compas de Viaje, began intensive training and coordination of three senior “compas” who continue to be key members of the youth programming team. Each week, they maintain contact with their individual cohorts of youth, providing peer support, fellowship and theme-based “charlas” with a growing number of newcomers who are working hard to find their way. Referrals to the Compas program are made by educators, health clinics and other peers in the community. We’re proud to do be doing our small part to foster connection, peer to peer, especially during these stressful and distressing times!