Organizational Spotlight: Agencia ALPHA
Integrating immigrants into the social, political, and economic fabric of society.
God, Elohim, Allah, Jehovah, Heavenly Father, Higher Power, the Universe: all these terms are indicative of spiritual or religious beliefs. For most, religion or spirituality serves as a primary culture, a reason for being, and motivates people to live and act. Through spirituality and religiosity, people also cope and persevere through life’s challenges and stressful moments. Agencia Alpha recognizes the power of spirituality, especially among immigrant populations.
Agencia Alpha—a faith-based organization located in Boston—provides legal, citizenship, and community organizing services to immigrant populations. Agencia Alpha was founded seventeen years ago by two immigrant women who were deeply impacted by faith throughout their process of assimilating to the United States. The founders noticed that agencies served immigrants' housing, job skills, and other social services needs; however, a void existed in integrated faith services that prioritized helping immigrants throughout the legal process. What makes Agencia Alpha unique, though, is that faith embodies the essence of their organization.
Seventeen years ago, Patricia Sobalvarro was driving when she states that she had “a moment with God,” where she realized she needed to start the organization, Agencia Alpha, a space to support immigrants to help them engage in the community. From that moment, her faith has driven her and her organization to not only provide services to immigrants but to hopefully change their experience in acclimating to the United States. With the integration of faith in God, Agencia Alpha seeks to not only provide legal assistance but to embody their voice and their value as children of God and humans. Historically, immigrants are demonized and dehumanized, and with the current administration, it is no different today. To counteract these messages, Agencia Alpha advocates for immigration reform and reminds those they serve that they have inherent worth and are thus entitled to humane treatment.
Agencia Alpha believes that immigrants are powerful, and seeks to help them utilize their power. As stated by the executive director, “Latino immigrants are known for being a vibrant, colorful, and spiritual community … and immigrants continue to contribute to the religiosity of this nation.” The founding of the United States is rooted in immigration, and immigrants continue to have a profound economic, political, and social impact. For Agencia Alpha, the mission is not just to provide legal services, but to further skills and talents to all those they serve. Agencia Alpha pictures a world where all immigrants have the power to challenge injustices and influence policy with the hopes of changing the narrative of the immigrant experience in the United States.
Agencia Alpha’s faith-based approach framework caters to people of all faiths. With the recent increase in violence towards those of the Jewish and Muslim religions, Agencia Alpha has sought ways to partner with these communities to continue to advocate for immigrants of all faiths and to change the narrative in the media of people of faith who have immigrated to the United States.
Agencia Alpha bridges across communities and cultures by emphasizing the value and inherent worth of every person. A recent report shows that Agencia Alpha served immigrants from over 67 different cultures and ethnicities. Although Agencia Alpha uses a Christian faith-based framework, they have been able to achieve the work they have done thus far because they recognize that a higher being (for some God for others Jehovah, Allah, etc.) created every person. When interviewing the executive director, this is what she stated when talking about the model of Agencia Alpha:
“We have always said our biggest asset is the generosity of our volunteers. We have a group of people who unselfishly come together to help and embrace our vision, and that’s all you need. We don’t do this to make money, [we do this because] we carry the message of Isaiah 61. When we found people that shared out values and our vision, the sky [was the] limit. We felt we could do anything. When something is from God, God [will] supply your needs and open those doors. We did not need to recruit, for one reason or another people came to us; God brought people to us. For whatever reason, their lifestyle [allowed them to be] able to provide their time and their skills. We would not do this any other way. All the important milestones we have reached is because God orchestrated it for us. [Our way of doing things] motivates people; people are drawn to us. [It’s] more than religion, its living and believing what God has told [us].”
One does not have to be religious or spiritual to connect and relate to the message and mission of Agencia Alpha. Every human being is powerful, every human being possesses inherent worth, and every human being is endowed with inalienable rights regardless of their immigration status. All organizations who engage in service provision should embody this universal message.