CoFiA Saturday Group met in Palisades Park

Delegados at Olivo Restaurant
The CoFiA Saturday group–Delegados–continues to meet about once a month at a restaurant in Palisades Park. At a recent meeting on a bitter Saturday night, Community Organizer Sayda Tuanama told the group about a planned upcoming OSHA training. OSHA certificates are especially important to the workers because, in addition to certifying that they have learned aspects of how to be safe on the job, the certificates provide a form of ID.

CoFiA member Norm Smith told the group about Project Homeless Connect, to be held at the homeless shelter in Hackensack on January 24. People who are homeless can go to the shelter on that day and receive haircuts, showers, some medical services, clean clothes, and more. Contact Sayda (201-561-4192) for more information.

One member of the group told of having met a homeless man on the street who was suffering from hypothermia and in bad shape. He called the police who took him to a hospital. We haven’t heard what happened next. Homelessness is a serious problem in Palisades Park. There is a small group of 6-12 people who are chronically homeless and to date have refused offers of help. Suggestions of how to reach out to them are more than welcome. We do provide sandwiches and hot coffee whenever possible, and many attend the lunch programs.


ESL Classes celebrate together

For many years, CoFiA has offered ESL classes at the Palisades Park Public Library. This year we had Intermediate and Beginners classes. In addition to providing opportunities to practice English reading, speaking and writing, the sessions–which are offered once a week, without fees–offer a chance for students to become better integrated into American society, get to know each other and teachers in a non-judgmental environment, and share information about what is happening in immigration enforcement. Our holiday party was a highlight for students and teachers alike! And so much food–everyone brought something and everyone helped clean up. Thanks to the always friendly and supportive staff of the Palisades Park Library–they always make us feel welcome and appreciated.

Intermediate class students received awards for perfect attendance.
Lots of food!
Francisco entertained. (Apologies from the photographer!)

Holiday Lunches

Bicycles PLUS helmets were welcome!

The lunch program on December 19 featured Guatemalan specialities from our friends at Esquina Chapina, plus many other holiday offerings. The volunteers and friends from the World Mission Church of First Presbyterian were as always there in full force, providing welcome hot soup and kimchi–much enjoyed by the Guatemalan workers! The Ethical Culture Society of Teaneck contributed 50 packets of warm gloves and socks–so welcome as we head into the cold winter weather. A member of CoFiA donated two bicycles, plus helmets, which were awarded by drawing tickets. And friends of World Mission Church donated large bags of rice–much appreciated! And everyone enjoyed the service led by Pastor Daniel, this week offered in Spanish (he also speaks Korean and English!), and Christmas carols in Spanish as well.

A warm and welcoming opportunity for friends who are too often found standing on street corners hoping for increasingly scarce work and, sadly, those who have no home. Our hearts ache for these men but we have not yet found anyway to help them secure safe housing, even in the midst of the wealthy towns of Bergen County. Please keep them in your thoughts and send along any suggestions you have to keep them safe this winter.

Chuchitas were a special treat
Our new home–First Presbyterian Church
winning a bicycle is exciting!
A new jacket is very welcome, especially if you are homeless.

Need Help?

CoFiA offers a Workers’ Link service, facilitating connections between homeowners or small businesses, and workers. At this time of year, many more workers become available as regular jobs in construction and landscaping slow down with the cold weather.

To request a worker, go to our website ( and read the section, Hire a Worker. You can then either complete the request form online and return to us at info@communityoffriendsinaction, or call us at 201-598-2253. Please provide all the requested information and allow a few days for us to locate the right person for the job. Workers negotiate their fees directly with the employer. We are not an employment agency.

workers do various cleaning jobs
many workers are skilled masons
building walls
and installing patios
Snow season is here! Request help quickly.

Outreach Auction Funds

Inge Spungen and Jeff Merrigan, representing the recent Outreach Auction sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist congregations in Bergen County, visited the CoFiA Tuesday night ESL class to present a check from the Auction. Margaret White and Norm Smith, ESL teachers, and the students from the beginners and intermediate classes, were delighted to receive the check in the amount of $8422. The funds will be added to CoFiA’s Spiegel Fund and enable the organization to assist more immigrant families at risk in these highly dangerous time.

Check presentation, Palisades Park Library



What is “Sanctuary Everywhere?”

Sanctuary Everywhere is an initiative from the American Friends Service Committee that the Community of Friends in Action strongly supports. Our friends in the immigrant community are at constant risk of being picked up by ICE and deported. We think this idea–that all of us can provide some kind of sanctuary for those under threat by the authorities–is one that will give hope and practical help to some of these individuals and families.

AFSC describes the initiative in this way:
“Sanctuary Everywhere is the simple idea that everyday people can work together to keep each other safe. Sanctuary can mean taking someone into a congregation to protect them from deportation, but more broadly, it’s about the community coming together to protect targeted communities from state violence—including immigrants, people of color, targeted religious groups, or LGBTQ folks.

Here, you’ll find resources for individuals, schools, colleges, congregations, and communities to create safe, welcoming spaces for all people.

We hope to equip thousands of people with tools and training to stop hateful acts and to encourage policies and practices that promote safety and inclusion.

Watch our “Sanctuary Everywhere” video, and learn more.”

Renewed Lunch Program off to a good start

CoFiA is grateful to Pastor David Peng, First Presbyterian Church, Palisades Park, and Pastor Daniel Lee, New Jersey World Mission Church, for inviting us to offer our lunch program in their building every Tuesday.  We are also grateful to the volunteers who have been providing meals for hungry people there year-round, for welcoming us into their group and sharing this ministry with us.  As the cold weather approaches the group of workers coming for the meal grows week by week, as opportunities for employment decline.

This is an unusual opportunity for us as we are invited to work within a very multicultural group.  Pastor Peng and his church offer a Chinese ministry, while Pastor Daniel serves a hispanic congregation–although he speaks Korean as well as English and Spanish.  The other volunteers are Korean and provide delicious Korean meals.  And our volunteers are a mixed group of Anglos and Hispanics.  We can’t all talk freely with one another!  But the friendly atmosphere and ready acceptance of one another’s contributions make the Tuesday lunch a really fun experience.

And of course the workers are delighted to have the food, whatever the cuisine.  They like kimchi as much as chuchitas!

First Presbyterian Church
CoFiA provided chuchitas from Esquina Chapina
Visiting musicians
Volunteers preparing