Austin's Gay Pride Festival

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

An apt description for Austin's Gay Pride Festival this past Saturday, a day filled with wonderful diversity, good company, and just plain fun. And thanks to an enthusiastic team of sangha volunteers facilitated by Ellen and Kim, Appamada and Buddhist Action Now had a booth, one of over100 actually, right in the middle of all the festival action.

We had signs, we had literature, and as tokens we offered beautiful, little Jizo stones that seemed to melt the hearts of everyone. (Thanks to Sabrina Kindell for creating and donating these wonderful Bodhisattva gifts).

The Festival was a great opportunity to come together to celebrate community! On this day, community became conscious action.


Walking With, Walking Through

When the world happens,
Eyes fill with paralyzing tears.
When the lotus blooms,
Hearts fill with a bodhisattva's compassion.

Still . . .
What do we do?
What can we do?
And just how do we do it?

But really, we already know.
The message sings quietly loud through every present moment,
If we but listen.

We are here.
We are here together.
We are walking our vow step by step,
Courageously, with metta,
Arm in arm.

—Joyce Meadows



Volunteer Opportunities in Austin

Volunteer Opportunities in Austin 

Texas Impact/Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy (texasimpact.org  Contact: Erica Nelson 801-389-4975)

Texas Impact and its sister organization, the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, form an interfaith network that brings faith to bear on social issues through grassroots education and policy advocacy. Together, we give people of faith the information and leadership skills they need to help policymakers improve conditions for families and communities throughout Texas. There are many volunteer opportunities. Please check the website.

RAICES (raicestexas.org Tel: 512-994-2199)

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

RAICES is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.

Some examples of volunteering:

  • General Office Help

  • Immigrant Activism

  • Immigrant accompaniment: Spend time with asylum seekers at intermediate stops at bus stations.

  • Providing asylum seekers with a ride to Immigration Court in San Antonio:

  • Translation services

Casa Marianella (volunteer@casamarianella.org)

Casa Marianella welcomes displaced immigrants and promotes self-sufficiency by providing shelter and support services. Casa Marianella is the only homeless shelter in Austin dedicated solely to immigrants. 65% of shelter residents, including children, are asylum seekers, many coming to Casa Marianella from immigration detention. Donations and volunteers are welcome.

Grassroots Leadership (grassrootsleadership.org)

Grassroots Leadership works for a more just society where prison profiteering, mass incarceration, deportation and criminalization are things of the past. The organization has several programs regarding immigration. One of those is the volunteer visitation program that matches women detained at the Hutto Detention Center and interpreter if necessary.

American Gateways (www.americangateways.org)

American Gateways is one of the largest immigration legal services providers in Texas. Clients receive culturally sensitive, trauma-informed legal representation from start to finish of a case. American Gateways is also the only nonprofit in the state to provide legal orientation, immigration workshops, and pro bono legal representation at four immigrant detention facilities. Donations are accepted. Call for possible volunteer opportunities. 

Manos de Cristo (http://www.manosdecristo.org/volunteers.html)

The mission of Manos de Cristo is to empower low-income individuals with a loving hand of assistance without regard to age, gender, race, or religious preference. Manos de Cristo promotes dignity and self-reliance by meeting basic needs with food and clothing, providing essential oral care, and furthering educational development.

Classes include English levels !-4, Computer Skills, US Citizenship, and Plaza Communitaria (Adult Education in Spanish, primary through secondary school.)

ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) Austin office (https://www.aclu.org/other/austin-tx-resolution)

Lights for Liberty: Vigil to Close the Camps

On Friday evening several of us from Appamada and Buddhist Action Now joined hundreds of others from the Austin community, as well as towns and cities around the country, for a vigil to protest the federal governments treatment of migrants at the US-Mexico border. We heard several informative speakers including a local immigration lawyer, political activists, family members of an incarcerated child, and local and state government leaders. When the sun went down each person in the crowd turned on their LED candle or flashlight as symbols of the light we hope to shine in these dark times. When we joined together to sing “This Little Light of Mine” we felt that we also joined together in our resolve to stand up against the cruel treatment of those being detained in crowded and squalid conditions at the border.  Appamada and Buddhist Action Now were glad to stand with the Austin community and the country against the inhumane treatment of migrants. 

Close the Camps Protest, 7/2/19

Buddhist Action Now was honored to be one of the sponsors for the Close the Camps protest at Republic Square Park last Tuesday. Several of our members joined hundreds of Central Texans to protest the deplorable conditions migrants are subjected to at the US-Mexico border.  People are being imprisoned in grossly overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Children continue to be separated from their parents. Our local Close the Camps protest was one of 175 events that took place in 40 states on Tuesday. It has been reported that tens of thousands protested nation-wide.

Austin’s Close the Camps protest was reported on local TV news. Thanks to Anne Heinen for the links to TV news coverage. If you click on the links you will see that our Buddhist Action Now sign is clearly visible among the other signs in the crowd. Flint Sparks reports that he saw our sign on a national news report. It is gratifying to be a visible part of Austin’s caring and concerned community.

Even if you were unable to attend the Close the Camps protest you can still help. Please call Senator John Cornyn (202-224-2934) and Senator Ted Cruz (202-224-5922). Please ask them to support humane treatment for migrant people. 

For photos, a free Close the Camps sticker, and a list of actions to support migrants you can text 668366.

KUT's story on the protest has a photo that includes the Buddhist Action Now sign.

And KXAN's story also included a shot with the sign.