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Volunteers help steer migrant shelter in New Mexico town

July 28, 2019

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — Volunteers are using translation apps and helping raise money for a migrant shelter near the U.S.-Mexico border in a small New Mexico city.

The volunteers are aiding in running the Deming National Guard Armory which has been set up as a temporary migrant shelter amid a humanitarian crisis along the border, the Deming Headlight reports.

From stuffing travel bags for migrants to helping arrange travel arrangements to sponsors in the U.S., the volunteers in the community of Deming have come together to offer assistance to would-be asylum-seekers who have ended up in this small desert hamlet.

Deming migrant operation volunteer Ray Trejo said around 10,000 asylum-seekers from Brazil and all parts of Central America have been processed through Deming in recent months.

“In the beginning we weren’t prepared for this,” Trejo said. “We didn’t know how many we’d get as far as asylum-seekers, but the community has pulled together and did the best they could. What we got now is systems in place.”

The assistance has included raising money for a shelter that sits in one of the poorest counties in the country.

Volunteer Kalyn Blazak and some of her close friends have established a Facebook page dedicated to gathering donations for the Migrant Relief Shelter.

Some of the volunteers have since been hired as staff members.

“When I was a volunteer, I would get there like at 8 in the morning and leave until 9:30 or 10 at night,” Sylvia Carbajal told the Headlight. “I was there constantly, every day helping out. When it came to needing staff, they told me if I wanted to work as a staff member.”

Luna County Commissioner Barbara Reedy has contributed her time almost every day since its start up until migrant relief staff was hired. Now, her son, Bryan Reedy, works as Trejo’s assistant.

The effort has drawn volunteers from other parts of the state.

Four people from Taos, New Mexico arrived on Wednesday, for example, to help out. “We’re just a group of neighbors that decided to put this project together,” said Angela Lewis, who came from Taos, New Mexico.

When Lewis heard the news, she said she wanted to help her neighbors in Deming so she reached out to local officials.

“I asked them what do you need that might be bigger because I think it’s easier to get these types of donations,” Angela said pointing to stock piles of disinfectant wipes. “But to get a chunk of money is harder.”

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Information from: Headlight, http://www.demingheadlight.com

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