Sanctuary/Asylum Committee, Annual Report:  July 2023-June 2024

Sanctuary Coalition of Southern New Hampshire

            June 2023. In preparation for having a resident in the church, we were required in writing (The Cummings Letter) to make several changes to the living space/lounge. In June and July, the final work, the installation of the speaker-strobe smoke alarm, was completed.

            In September, Chrisma informed us that he would be staying in Kentucky to help his brother who was establishing a construction business. Suzanne, Jackie, Happy, Lois and I begin to sort through the ‘left-behinds’ in the Guestroom. Of the items Chrisma no longer needed or wanted, Happy recycle them at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Goffstown’s clothing pantry. The bedding and towels were all rewashed. The kitchenette was scrubbed, and the refrigerator emptied and scrubbed. Furniture no longer needed was lugged to the curb for City pick up. Thank you, Jefferson Chickering.

            In November we welcomed a new member to the committee, Elizabeth Duck. She is a member of UU-M and sings in our choir. In late November, we received an urgent request for housing for an Asylum seeker from Syria. The temperatures were dropping below freezing and he was living in his car. He had work papers and said he would be looking for work.

            In December, we accepted his request and he moved into the church on December 7. After he had been with us for a while, we realized he had needs which we were unqualified to support.

            By January 2024, it was becoming clear that the relationship between Farres and the church was not improving and was becoming irreconcilable due to actions on his part that disrespected the church leadership, church members, volunteers and the supporters of the Program. Rev. Kali and Dave Dutilley, President of the UU-M Board, met with Farres and notified him that due to his unproductive behavior, they requested that he leave the Sanctuary/Asylum Program. Due to irreconcilable differences between Farres and the members of the community attempting to offer support, he should remove himself from the facility by February 10.

            By the evening of February 10, with much oversite by Paul Introcaso, Farres was gone.  A new cycle of room cleaning, bedding washing kitchenette cleaning began.  This time, added to the task of cleaning, was returning furniture items to their proper room, and collecting furniture that belonged back in the Guest Room. Thank you, Jim Alcauskas.

            In March, a stove and electrical work was donated to the kitchenette.  This will allow for more cooking options for our next guest, an improvement over a hot plate (which the Fire Marshall did not like but did not forbid).  It will also provide more rental money for the church.

            In April, two people joined the S/A Committee:  Sheila Grace from St. Anne/St. Augustin Parish, and Jeanne Vacco from UU-M, who sings in our choir.  Welcome!  And We finally were able to coordinate a date for a Welcome Party for Bienfait’s family, who are now here in Manchester!  Bienfait was our first Asylum Guest.  We are glad he is still so close by.

            In May, we had several Committee members cycle off:  Lois Cote, Jackie Spenard, and Paul Introcaso.  They have been important members of our Committee, and we miss them. A member of the UU Church of Nashua, Kenna MacLeod, is considering joining us.  We hope she does. Parker Prescott has signed on to be the monthly Newsletter writer/distributed.  Welcome.

Most importantly, Bienfait will be awarded his Master’s Degree from UNH Carsey School of Public Policy on May 17 in Durham, NH.  *****     CONGRATULATIONS! *****

As of June, we have $2094.30 in our Sanctuary/Asylum Fund, and $450 in our UU-M Church’s budget line item. We have $125 of Market Basket Grocery Cards in reserve.

Sincerely, Liz Alcauskas and the members of the Sanctuary/Asylum Committee, 2023-2024:

Happy Beale, St. Matthew Episcopal, Goffstown

Suzanne Chretien, GSOP

Lois Cote, Independent

Elizabeth Duck, UU-M

Rev. Kali Fyre, UU-M

Sheila Grace, St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish

Paul Introcaso, UU-Nashua

Kenna McLeod, UU-Nashua

Curt Smith, UU-M

Jackie Spenard, UU-M

Marjeanne Vacco, UU-M

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