You know the Statue of Liberty. You know its story. You know how it stands at the mouth of the Hudson River, a beacon to immigrants for over a century.

I’ve climbed her stairs a few times over the years and even climbed inside her arm with my grandmother, something no tourist has done for a few generations now.

Have you read the full poem by Emma Lazarus, The New Collosus, which is engraved on a plaque on an inner wall? Here it is:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

One more time, here’s the part we all remember:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Many of you know of my work over the past year in helping to build a new organization here in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, an organization dedicated to finding and supporting asylum seekers who have not only fled for their lives from their homeland, they have wound up in intolerable conditions on US soil, often for years as profit-driven prisons refuse to release them or, worse, the government deports them before their case has been finalized in the courts.

Truly, it’s a mess. I am passionate about this work as it combines my interest in cultural differences with government policy (though I hesitate to dignify white supremacy motives by giving it such an establishment label).

My post today will introduce you to how you can show your disdain for what we have become at our southern border.

Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? I have to admit, I hadn’t, until NEKASAN partnered with a few other asylum seeker support groups that had been using it for a few years to good advantage. Here’s a short announcement that explains what we are trying to accomplish on one particular day, December 1. Yes, it’s a press release (feel free to copy and send to whomever might be interested).

NEKASAN, the Northeast Kingdom Asylum Seekers Assistance Network, has recently partnered with a coalition of similar organizations in Vermont, working to get asylum seekers out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers and resettled in local communities. We collaborate on fundraising, share information and resources, and publicize the conditions and needs of asylum seekers in our region.

Our first joint project is coming up on December 1, Giving Tuesday, a social media event that lets us highlight our favorite causes world wide.

Asylum seekers need our help now more than ever. Not only are they held in profit-driven, unsanitary detention centers where Covid-19 spreads unchecked, once out, they face an increasingly complex and restrictive legal system that too often thwarts their legitimate efforts to have their cases adjudicated.

People who seek asylum in the United States have fled persecution and violence in their countries of birth, only to encounter the same in U.S. detention facilities. Under policies of the federal administration, families have been separated, children have been kept in cages, and it has become more and more difficult for families and individuals to pursue their legal rights to asylum, forcing them into longer and longer waiting periods before being permitted to even have their cases heard.

Across the country, efforts are underway to empty ICE detention centers one person at a time. Here in Vermont, our six organizations have offered twenty asylum-seekers a safe and peaceful place to live while they await their immigration court hearings. To that end we are always working to enlarge our network of volunteers and donors. That’s where Giving Tuesday comes in.

Our six groups have joined together to raise $10,000 on Tuesday, December 1 through Giving Tuesday. You can join us in this effort by going to this link and GIVING this TUESDAY, December 1st

All proceeds donated to this site on December 1st will be shared equally among the six organizations and used to support asylum seekers in myriad ways.

You can help by both donating at the link below (on TUESDAY, thank you) and by sharing (TODAY) on your own social media platforms and via email. Help us raise money and awareness to meet the needs of asylum seekers. 

We also invite you to visit our website,, to learn more about us, explore volunteer opportunities, donate, and contact us with your questions.

I hope you’ll share this post on your social media platforms. Together, we can ease lives traumatized by violence and fear. Together, we can lift, once again, that lamp beside the golden door.

Interested in learning more of this issue? In addition to the Freedom for Immigrants whose tags line read “starts with you” and “together we will end immigrant detention,” I encourage you to check out the website of my favorite asylum seekers assistance group, The Angry Tias y Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley. Isn’t that a great name?

Is there a cause you’re supporting this year that you’d like to showcase, as I’ve done for my work with asylum seekers? Do it here. I’m curious.

6 Responses

  1. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Yes, I am very familiar with Emma Lazarus’ statement and, of course, with the Statue of Liberty, which my husband has drawn more than a thousand times in his historical art and music performances in schools. The sight of it is still very affecting.

    I certainly support initiatives like you are showcasing here. My pet “thing” is homelessness and food deprivation here in my city of well over a million. For years I have supported rescue missions who shelter the homeless and feed the hungry + provide job training and a path out of poverty. Also, this year with so many out of jobs, I’ve also supported Catholic charities and lately Feeding America/Northeast Florida. There is no end to the need and those who have abundance, as I do, must step up to help!

    Thanks for alerting me to this worthy cause, Janet!’
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Thanksgiving 2020: The Silly, the Secular, and the SacredMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks for sharing your philanthropy choices, Marian. I support wholeheartedly that local giving must come first. Here, our state wide Vermont Foodbank is one of my favorite charities. That and our local domestic violence programs. Back when I was doing fundraising professionally I found an unfortunate absence of a philanthropic mind set. I do think it’s a practice we learn at a young age. Kudos once again to your family. Have a Happy Thanksgiving
      Janet Givens recently posted…GIVING TUESDAY is comingMy Profile

  2. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    I recall seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first, and only, time in 1988. I teared up as it would have been the first thing my great grandparents and 4-year-old grandfather would have seen entering New York harbour in 1911. They were coming to their new home from South Russia as displaced persons. From NY they went by train to the homestead in Alberta, Canada. But this was America and freedom for them. Bravo for you and the work you do for asylum seekers! Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Bette A Stevens
    | Reply

    I climbed the Statue of Liberty once as a teen. Thanks for sharing your wonderful photograph and Emma Lazarus’s poem, Janet. Thanks for sharing your support of immigrants and their plight as well. As Americans, we have much to do to improve living conditions for so many who are here–those who have no voice. There were many organizations I supported when I was working through United Way. As a retiree, I support my local food cupboard and other local projects. Thanks for all you do!

  4. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    And thank you as well, Bette. In addition to taking me on many day trips into NYC, my grandmother also taught me that the more we give, the more we get. And giving comes first. I’ve found this to be true throughout my life. Sounds like that’s your philosophy as well. Thanks for sharing.
    Janet Givens recently posted…GIVING TUESDAY is comingMy Profile

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