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Colorado man spends holiday volunteering, helping migrant families

"All that we can do is help in any way we can"
Local man spends holiday volunteering, helping migrant families
Posted at 11:15 PM, Dec 26, 2022

DENVER — In Denver, migrants are arriving by the hundreds. Those with the city said they "continue to manage a reception center and two congregate emergency shelters for migrants and asylum-seekers."

As of 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 26, the City and County of Denver provided the following statistics:

  • Number of Migrants that Arrived Overnight: 156
  • Total Number of Migrants Served by the City since Dec. 9: approximately 2,295
  • Number of Migrants Currently Sheltered in City Emergency Shelters: 656
  • Number of Migrants Currently Sheltered in Partner Emergency Shelters: 622

Volunteers are helping staff the emergency migrant shelters. One of those volunteers spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day serving migrant families, after becoming close with a Venezuelan family of immigrants a few months ago.

"We, as a family, we feel that it is our duty," Ricky Cardenas said about serving the migrant families. “It's more than just numbers. It is real people.”

Originally from El Salvador, Cardenas came to Colorado around 20 years ago as part of a job transfer.

Around four months ago, he and his family met a Venezuelan immigrant family, who came to their Christmas dinner this week.

“The conditions in their countries are so harsh, and the American dream is so big, that they don't mind risking everything. They put everything on the line, everything," Cardenas said about the families seeking asylum. “It was the best Christmas dinner that we have had in many, many years.”

Cardenas said while volunteering the past two days with migrant families, he's already heard so many different stories about why they fled their homes.

“2023 is going to be hard, and as far as I can tell, this is a crisis that we need to be prepared and willing to help, because there is no way to stop it," said Cardenas. “What are we going to do? We're going to pitch in, we need to step up to the plate and help.”

Cardenas said having the Venezuelan family over for dinner warmed his heart this holiday season.

"That's when the rubber hits the road. That's when it truly becomes human. That's when you say, oh my gosh, I couldn't be in your shoes," Cardenas said about sharing a meal and a holiday. “We should be grateful and we should always be trying to help other people in need, because that's what we're here for.”

Governor Jared Polis' Office sent Denver7 the following statement regarding the migrant families arriving in Colorado:

The Governor instructed DOLA to open up additional funding for local governments that are in need of temporarily expanding their shelter capacity. Our emergency management team is actively engaged with local municipalities and planning for potential scenarios in which this becomes a statewide event. The Governor continues to urge Congress to finally pass real immigration reform. In addition, $2.5M of state funds are being transferred to the Colorado Department of Public Safety to provide funding to service providers, nonprofit, governmental, or private, to provide humanitarian relief to families and individuals in need of shelter during this cold winter. The Governor has been in regular contact with the Congressional Delegation and the Administration, asking for better border security, a plan on what to do once Title 42 ends, funds for successful immigrant intervention, and an expedited means of providing work authorization for migrants, which will allow them to become self-sufficient and decrease sheltering needs.
Spokesperson, Governor Jared Polis' Office

For more information on becoming a volunteer with the City and County of Denver to help migrant families, visit Denvergov.org/OEM [denvergov.org].