Recognizing Jason Friedland and Shleppers Moving & Storage: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Jason is a 2018 Pillars of Change honoree.

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn more and register for Pillars of Change.

Jason Friedland was introduced to Sanctuary in 2015 through Sanctuary Board Member Aliya Sahai. As CEO of Shleppers Moving & Storage, Jason oversees one of the most trusted and well-regarded moving companies in New York City.

Shelppers Moving & Storage is also well-known for their various charitable endeavors, supporting organizations such as United Way, March of Dimes, and the American Diabetes Association.

Aliya was aware of the company’s charitable activities and asked Jason, a close friend, if they could support Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Family Program with pro bono moving services. Jason explains,

“I find that if you do exactly what Aliya wants you to do, it’s usually the smart choice. Also, I was happy to help.”

The Adopt-a-Family Program matches Sanctuary’s clients with donors who are able to fulfill their holiday ‘wish lists’. Through this program, Sanctuary currently serves over 400 adults and children each year with gifts that provide comfort and enjoyment during a time that can be difficult for many of our clients.

In addition to the Adopt-a-Family Program, Sanctuary also aims to provide each adult and child receiving services with at least one gift at the end of the year. Including the Adopt-a-Family Program, Sanctuary’s holiday giving drives support well over 1,000 individuals each year throughout New York City.

As the program has grown over the past several years, logistical challenges of delivering these gifts to families across four boroughs became apparent. For the past three years, Shleppers Moving & Storage has provided free moving services to seamlessly deliver thousands of gifts across New York City.

Sanctuary would not be able to reach so many clients during the busy holiday season without the support of Shleppers. Their efficiency, professionalism, and care have not gone unnoticed by Emily Lo Bue, Director of Corporate and Volunteer Relations:

“In addition to the logistical benefit of having a pro bono moving company support this program, the crews from Shleppers have consistently made this experience positive, efficient, and much less daunting. The crew members have always been prepared for anything, willing to go above and beyond, and completely respectful and sensitive to our needs.”

For Jason, the reason for participating in this program is simple:

“The more resources Sanctuary has available, the more it can fulfill its mission to help its clients and their children. It feels good to be able to help”

Thanks in no small part to Jason’s steadfast commitment to Sanctuary and the wider community, Shleppers has become an important partner to Sanctuary for Families.

Sanctuary’s staff and clients thank both Jason and his team at Shleppers for their generosity, the impact of which is felt far beyond the holiday season.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018 to recognize Jason and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Recognizing Yuqing Wang: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Yuqing is a 2018 Pillars of Change honoree.

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn more and register for Pillars of Change.

As an international student at NYU, Yuqing Wang was curious about life in New York City outside her campus and searched for volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch.com where she found Sanctuary for Families.

As a native Mandarin speaker, Yuqing utilizes her language skills as a volunteer interpreter for Sanctuary’s Queens Trafficking Intervention Pro Bono Program (QTIPP). In this role, Yuqing supports Sanctuary staff, pro bono attorneys, and clients every Friday at Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court by providing interpretation for client intakes and screenings.

“Interpretation for our clients is not as simple as translating words from one language to another,” explains Lauren Chung, Administrative Assistant, Anti-Trafficking Initiative.

“Many of the clients within the QTIPP program are vulnerable immigrants from East Asia and it is very difficult for them to recount experiences of abuse and trauma.”

Despite this, Yuqing approaches these intakes with extreme sensitivity and she becomes the client’s voice for the duration of the intake. “I can recall many cases in which a client walked into the office nervous and walked out with a smile on their faces. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about volunteering,” Yuqing explains.

In just over a year of volunteering at Sanctuary, Yuqing has translated for over 60 client intakes, working with over 50 pro bono attorneys from Sanctuary’s law firm partners. As an experienced trauma-sensitive interpreter, Yuqing has also been assisting the Anti-Trafficking Initiative with developing an interpreter training for future volunteers.

Yuqing’s talents have not gone unnoticed by Sanctuary staff:

“We have come to rely on Yuqing’s insightfulness – if there’s an intake that we anticipate will be particularly sensitive, we do our best to have Yuqing interpret for that intake, trusting that her presence will ease the client.”

For Yuqing, volunteering at Sanctuary has been rewarding both personally and professionally. One thing Yuqing did not expect was the relationships she would develop with other people working on the project:

“I met Maggy last year, who is a retired lawyer and we have collaborated many times. She was incredibly kind and was happy to share her experiences with me and give me advice. If not for this volunteer opportunity, I would never have gained this friendship.”

Yuqing always brings the focus of any conversation about her work back to the clients she works with. For Yuqing, the most rewarding part of her work is ‘seeing that someone in difficulty is more relieved after our interview’.

We sincerely thank Yuqing for her compassion, sensitivity, and insight and hope she will continue working with Sanctuary for a long time to come.

We look forward to celebrating Yuqing and four other amazing volunteers at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018! You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now. We hope to see you there!

Recognizing Diana Steele: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Diana is a 2018 Pillars of Change honoree.

It’s National Volunteer Recognition Week! Every day this week we’ll be highlighting a Sanctuary volunteer who will be honored at our Pillars of Change Volunteer Recognition Event on May 10th. Learn More and register for Pillars of Change.

Diana Steele has been volunteering with Sanctuary’s Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project since 2014, when she was connected to Sanctuary through the Attorney Emeritus Program.

Diana’s goal had always been to work in public interest law. Prior to her long career in corporate taxation, she had worked in nonprofit organizations such as The Legal Aid Society and the ACLU.

It was this deep commitment to public interest that inspired Diana to dedicate her time to Sanctuary for Families upon retiring.

“I had always wanted to get back into doing something more consistent with my initial public interest goals, and Sanctuary’s mission clearly fit that goal”, she explains.

In her time as a Sanctuary volunteer, Diana has become an invaluable member of the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project team, a group of attorneys and advocates who provide survivors of gender violence with legal representation to obtain divorce, child support, child custody, and other relief to which they are entitled.

“Diana does research and writing on complex legal issues that arise in our cases.  She has handled everything from researching details about service of process in foreign jurisdictions to drafting arguments for appellate briefs,” explains Amanda Norejko, Director of the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project.

Diana’s skill and productivity was evident from the beginning and her research and writing has played a central role in supporting a wide range of clients’ legal needs. Some of Diana’s achievements include collaborating on winning briefs in cases before the Appellate Division, providing research for manuals used to train new attorneys in housing law, and stepping in to support time-sensitive case while the primary attorney was on vacation.

“Diana is incredibly productive, enabling us to meet tight deadlines on major legal briefs. We have come to rely on her consistently excellent work product and she never disappoints us.” – Amanda Norejko.

Diana’s commitment to Sanctuary is undeniable, “The most rewarding parts of volunteering at Sanctuary are working with the dedicated, bright, and hardworking legal staff and witnessing the tremendous courage and resilience of Sanctuary clients.”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like Diana, who bring skill, experience, and passion to our staff and hope and opportunity to our clients.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on May 10, 2018 to recognize Diana and four other incredible volunteers for their service. You can join us at Pillars of Change by registering now!

Cleary Gottlieb Computer Donation Impacts Clients’ Lives

Lauren Altus is a communications intern at Sanctuary and a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins

Lauren Altus is a communications intern at Sanctuary and a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University.


In December of 2017, longtime partner law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP donated 60 refurbished desktop computers to Sanctuary with the special help of Partner Francesca L. Odell, Pro Bono Immigration Attorney Kyle Dandelet, and Global IT Special Project Leader Lenis M. Santos. Because of this generous donation, 60 survivors and their families were able to use these computers for a wide array of activities that helped them stabilize their lives as well as prepare for the future.

Many of the families Sanctuary works with are immigrants, low income, or live in shelters. These computers have provided resources that many people take for granted in their day to day lives.  The computers went to families currently engaged in services through Sanctuary’s Clinical Department (18), Economic Empowerment Program (10), and Legal Department (32).

Here are some ways in which the computer donations have impacted the lives of the families we’re working with:

Starting a New Business

35-year old David lives in Brooklyn and is currently the sole provider for his sister, brother, and disabled mother and father. Sanctuary’s Immigration Intervention Project (IIP) attorneys are helping David formalize his immigration status through asylum. In the interim, David has a work permit which IIP is helping him renew. The desktop computer he recently received will help him launch his new construction business.

Obtaining a High School Equivalency Diploma

Natasha was born in Guinea and is a single mother to her daughter. In August 2017, months after receiving her Green Card, Natasha enrolled in Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP) at the age of 42. Although she was clearly motivated and eager to learn, one of Natasha’s first barriers to obtaining a living wage job was her lack of a High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma.

While in EEP, Natasha worked incredibly hard and since graduating, she has remained dedicated to her goals. Natasha is currently enrolled in a complimentary workforce development training program offered through SUNY’s Advanced Technology and Information Network (ATTAIN) and is working on getting her HSE. She recently took the predictor for the HSE and passed nearly all sections.

The desktop computer Natasha received has allowed her to complete homework assignments and follow-up MS Office Suite trainings so she can finally receive her diploma and move forward with her vocational skills and eventual career. After working as a Home Health Aide for the past 6 years, Natasha hopes to use the skills she learned in EEP to find a job in an office or administrative setting.

Helping Children with School

At the age of 34, Lauren is a single parent and sole supporter of two teenage sons and an infant. Originally from El Salvador, today, they live together in New Jersey.

Currently, the family’s finances are tight as Lauren’s infant son has many medical problems due to a congenital heart condition. Lauren is engaged in comprehensive immigration services with Sanctuary’s Immigration Intervention Project, and has a work permit connected to her pending asylum petition. Lauren reports that the desktop computer she received will help her children succeed in school by enabling them to complete homework assignments and eventually apply to college. Without the computer, her children would struggle to research homework questions, type assignments, and complete projects for their classes. Now that they have a computer, her children’s access to education is one less concern for Lauren.

Learning English

Originally from Mexico, Lorenza is a single mother and the sole provider for her household. Recently, she and her 2-year-old daughter moved from one of Sanctuary’s confidential shelters into a NYCHA apartment in Manhattan. Sanctuary’s Immigration Intervention Project attorneys are also helping Lorenza apply for U Visa status.

To make ends meet, Lorenza currently works part-time as a housekeeper, and also depends on the cash and SNAP benefits she receives on behalf of her daughter. Lorenza is a monolingual Spanish-speaker, and to improve her English proficiency she is attending ESL classes. The desktop computer Lorenza received is helping her practice English and complete her homework. Lorenza also plans to explore the Microsoft Office programs which will allow her to apply for office jobs in the future.

Job Training

Originally from Venezuela, Andres is working with Sanctuary to apply for asylum. Both his initial work permit and petition for asylum are pending but Andres reports that in the interim, the desktop computer he received is helping him work toward his goals of job training, beginning a meaningful career, and eventually achieving self-sufficiency.

Working Safely

Sadie, 32, currently lives with and supports her 2-year-old daughter. This past July, Sadie escaped the abusive relationship she had been in for the past six years after her ex-partner’s erratic and violent abuse towards her, their daughter, and their family pet escalated. Throughout the relationship, her abuser was possessive and controlling, going so far as to call her coworkers and employers to make sure she was at work. He often drove the family while under the influence, and he used illegal substances while caring for their infant daughter. Sadie fled to Ohio where she felt she would be safe with her family. Ensuing court orders, however, forced her to return to New York without most of her belongings.

With help from Sanctuary’s Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP), Sadie obtained a Temporary Order of Protection against her abuser in October 2017 and is currently engaged in a contentious custody/visitation matter. Sadie is also participating in counseling offered through Sanctuary’s Clinical Department.

The computer donation has made it possible for Sadie to work remotely, giving her the flexibility she needs to care for her daughter and eventually return to school. With the long-term stability of her family in mind, Sadie hopes to return to City University of New York in fall 2018.

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We are so grateful for our longstanding partnership with Cleary Gottlieb, one that goes far beyond pro bono representation. To the team at Cleary, and on behalf of all the families who benefitted from this donation, thank you for this generous gift. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for the recipients of these computers.