The Power of One

A lesson in directing righteous anger into productive action

As reports of migrant children being forcibly separated from their parents dominated the news, the pulpit, and every conversation this past summer, Rose Schneeberger of Covina, California, grappled with her feelings of sorrow, bewilderment and anger.

“It was malicious. It was cruel,” Rose says, shaking her head. “I would never have imagined seeing something like this in America.”

Rose arrived in the U.S. in 1969 from Barranquilla, Colombia. She married an American, became a U.S. citizen, and was a proud and active member of her community. But Rose had a younger sister, an attorney in Colombia, at a time when the powerful drug cartels began targeting judges and attorneys for assassination. This sister sought asylum in the U.S. in 2005.

“My sister was lucky that she had family here, people who were able to help her financially and support her,” Rose says. “But now we are putting people in jail just for asking for asylum. They are not criminals. They are scared for their lives and the lives of their children.”

I’m an immigrant myself,” says Rose Schneeberger.  “This issue is close to my heart.”

One day, as Rose sat in church, listening to the preaching, she suddenly decided she had heard enough. “Being angry was not helping anybody,” she says. “I had to do something.”

Although Rose has been a member of the United Methodist Church for 42 years, she did not know about the JFON network of immigration legal service providers—not until she began looking for the best way to help separated families at the border.

“Once I saw the cross and flame, I knew JFON was okay,” she says. “A project of UMCOR? Say no more.”

Rose called us this week to tell us she has raised $10,000 from her own congregation at Claremont United Methodist Church. She raised another $2,500 from her local Kiwanis club. And she’s reaching out to other congregations, other community organizations, and to anyone she can find. Rose is on a mission, an indefatigable force for good, and she’s not taking “no” for an answer.

I’m just getting started,” she says, smiling.

As of Monday, September 24, there are still 403 migrant children who remain separated from their parents.

”I will not allow them to forget those children,” Rose vows. “I’m not done until all those children are released.”


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