Each month we have a new spotlight on our Theme, Plate Partner, and featured Small Group.

This spotlight highlights what we will be talking about, who we are supporting in the community, and a place we can go to find connection.

Just saying the word “sanctuary” brings one a sense of peace and safety. It can bring back conflicted memories for some, but for most of us the idea of sanctuary conjures up feelings of being protected. Like its close cousin refuge, it speaks to the universal longing for a space to retreat from the dangers and depletions of the world. One thinks of the family ties and friendships that protect, restore and heal us.  The sanctuary movement and its refuge for immigrants is another powerful example of offering life-giving safe space. As the well-loved Irish proverb puts it, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” So, certainly, the hunger for protection and the call to protect each other is central to this month.

But as we dig deeper, we are reminded that the sanctuaries in our lives do more than simply protect us. They also send us. They don’t just help us heal from our journeys; they also strengthen us for the new journeys ahead. In their fullest, they are not escape houses as much as fueling stations. They don’t just whisper “Come and rest,” but also “Be filled and go!” The archetypal image of a toddler leaving and returning their parent’s leg comes to mind. That “home base” is not a tether but the very thing that allows us to venture out. Having been blessed with shelter, we are strengthened to offer that same gift of shelter to others. In other words, sanctuary always comes with a calling. And so the question for all of us this month is not just “Where do you find shelter?” but “Having been empowered by shelter, how can you share that same gift with others?”

– Soul Matters Sharing Circle.

PODER is a brown led group that was founded by Betsaida Chavez and Irene Ruiz in July of 2017 after Governor Otter and Attorney General Wasden signed a letter in intent to sue President Trump if DACA was not rescinded. In September of 2017, after the first big rally, they changed their name to Protecting Our Dreams and Empowering Resilience of Idaho (PODER). PODER is now an immigrants’ rights group that focuses on helping our immigrant communities in Idaho. Our goal is to humanize the voices of those who have been oppressed through these outdated and unfair immigration laws as well as new policies that keep marginalizing those affected.

PODER has done at least over a dozen actions and events. The group has done rallies that have brought in at least 5,000 people to our state Capitol. They have visited our state legislators to talk about DACA, had protests outside legislator’s functions, as well as provide education forums about DACA. PODER also traveled with United We Dream, the largest immigrant rights organization to lobby for the Clean Dream Act. The group has had the opportunity to tell DACA stories at 2018’s Storyfort at Treefort and also talked about family separation at Campfire Stories in August 2018.

PODER hopes to continue its work by the generosity of groups like the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. PODER plans on in the future to connect with immigrant communities in Idaho and do more work outside of the Treasure Valley.


The mission of the BUUF Refugee and Immigrant Ministry is to support and advocate for refugee and immigrant issues in our community (and beyond) through connection with our community partners.  As a ministry we partner with local refugee and immigrant organizations offering resources to their programs and projects. We also advocate on a local and national level for refugee and immigrant rights.

You can experience:

How stirring it is to be in the audience at a citizenship ceremony watching the person who you have just spent months tutoring for their interview, now taking the Citizenship Oath.

How entrancing it is to share a meal with a refugee or immigrant participant from Artisans for Hope while she converses proudly with you about the beautiful sewing projects she has completed and is selling to support her family.

How powerful it is it is to show up for a hearing or rally at the state capitol in support of a refugee or immigrant issue.

How worthwhile it is to be part of a LEAP Charities crew that is remodeling a place to stay for a newly arrived refugee family.

How fulfilling it is to work with the Global Talent Idaho program to teach New Americans with a college degree how to interview for professional jobs, so Boise can benefit from their skills and talents, and they can find more suitable work with better compensation.

How gratifying and fun it is to make personal connections with these new Americans as well as the dedicated people supporting them.

These are just some of the many projects that the BUUF Refugee and Immigrant Ministry are involved with.  If interested in learning more contact Betty at vangheluwemonnier@gmail.com.