Until recently, the largest number of newcomers that Jackson had ever hosted at an orientation was around fifty, for the first training session after Donald Trump was elected president. Then came the recent news about thousands of families being separated at the border under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which was enacted in early April.
While much of the nation has been outraged over the family separation crisis, it also motivated 315 people to show up to Jackson's most recent training session on Saturday, July 7.
“I tell the same stories whether I'm speaking one on one, or one on 315," Jackson explains. “And what was great was that so many people learned how they can make an impact. Many people who showed up [on Saturday] said, 'For the past couple of weeks I've been feeling helpless seeing the news every day and not knowing what I could do.' With the trainings, the goal is to use storytelling to get people emotionally connected enough to the cause that they will then shadow a current volunteer and learn all the logistical details of how to visit the detention center or help out around Casa de Paz.”
"We've now successfully been able to bond out several mothers in Colorado and also pay the travel expenses of parents who've been released from this detention center to get to family members elsewhere in the United States," Jackson says. “Additionally, we're giving $20 calling cards to each of the parents that we know who are still detained [in the Aurora detention center] and separated from their children."
Only two of the nine mothers that Jackson has hosted at Casa de Paz in recent weeks who were separated from their children at the border have been reunited with their kids.
One of those mothers is Maria, whom Westword wrote about in a June 21 article. Once Maria's story circulated, Jackson received money from Colorado supporters to cover her transportation from the East Coast, where she was staying with friends, to Texas, where her daughter had been released from detention.
For Jackson, the most surprising support she's seen in recent weeks is from Colorado children who have wanted to help in their own ways. "We've had three different groups of children, on their own, coming up with ideas to raise money or write cards to encourage the parents in the detention center," Jackson says.
They include a girl who ran a lemonade stand and raised over $200 in one afternoon. She even filmed a promotional “commercial,” seen below:
Jackson says some other kids sold popsicles at a pool and raised about $100. And a separate group of fifteen young children wrote over a hundred notes of encouragement for parents in the Aurora detention facility.
"This is one of the most beautiful things that I've witnessed in my life: young children who have heard what's going on and empathize with kids separated from their parents, saying that if they were taken away from their parents, they would be crying,” Jackson says. “It's amazing a child could feel what another child has been going through and decide that they want to help."
For others wanting to help, she adds, Casa de Paz's next fundraiser is this coming Friday, July 13, at 4 p.m. at Cerverceria Colorado; the brewery will give 20 percent of proceeds to a family reunification fund.
"I'm really glad that there is this recent surge of people who are saying that what is happening with families being separated is not okay,” Jackson says. “But I also want to remind people that once all of these children are hopefully reunited with their parents, it doesn't mean that the fight is over. And we're not just going away in a couple of months."