Things That Matter

Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Pastor And Stripper Who Have Come Together To Raise Money For Migrant Kids

“I started brainstorming with a stripper on how the church could help,” Rev. Adam Ericksen said in an interview with People Magazine last week. This pastor teamed up with a stripper to “raise awareness and support for the children in Mississippi who were torn apart by the ICE raids from their families.”

This honestly sounds like the setup for a joke and we’re waiting for the punchline.

Instagram / @clackamasucc

There is no punchline because what this pastor and stripper are fighting for is no laughing matter. The two were horrified when in early August almost 700 people were arrested in an ICE raid in Mississippi. Countless children were left without parents to care for them, feed them, and be there for them. Struck by the injustice, Rev. Adam Ericksen and Dawn McCall started the “Our Kids Charity Campaign,” which was designed to raise money for the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, or MIRA. The group provides advocacy and support for immigrants — and, by extension, assists children who have been affected by ICE raids.

So how did a pastor meet a stripper in the first place?

Instagram / @clackamasucc

Rev. Ericksen first caught McCall’s attention a few months ago, after he posted a sign outside his church in support of trans rights. Inspired, McCall got in touch with the reverend over Facebook, saying, “I love what you are are doing, keep it up.” Once the news about the raids got out, it was only a matter of time before Rev. Ericksen and McCall were discussing how the mass detentions had impacted on the community and how they could mobilize their resources to help. What they came up with was handmade, G-rated t-shirts to raise money for MIRA, and similar groups.

Rev. Ericksen’s had mixed feelings when they found out he was collaborating with a stripper and her girls.

Instagram / @laurenssseeley

One the one hand, everyone at the Clackamas United Church of Christ in Oregon, Mississippi was supportive of the reverend’s efforts to raise money for the cause. On the other hand, they were less supportive of the fact that Rev. Ericksen decided to partner with McCall and “her girls” to generate funds. “This was not the first thing on my mind when I became a pastor, that I’d be working with strippers,” said Ericksen, in the interview with People Magazine. “You would never expect a stripper and a pastor having the same values … but here it is.”

And in all honesty, strange times call for even stranger measures.

Instagram / @laurenssseeley

Who would have thought that the US government would essentially spearhead a campaign to separate children from their parents? Even the mayor of Jackson, the state’s capital, said that the raids were “dehumanizing and inhumane,” and were designed to “further alienate communities from law enforcement.” It seems only right that anyone and everyone who has the means to take a stand against the separation of children and parents should do so. Even if that means that reverends and dancers from the local vegan stripping joint have to form their own superhero squad to tackle the issue. Under the hashtag #ourkids – of course.

But let’s stop and think for a second about why this is happening in the first place.

Instagram / @clackamasucc

Here’s the thing: ICE and whatever associated departments that are conducting these raids and facilitating child-parent separations are, on the most fundamental level, simply following governmental policy. They’re not the ones who are developing and passing the laws that permit these atrocities to happen.

Yes this story makes for strange headlines but let’s not forget what this is really about: helping children.

Instagram / @teamblupdx 

McCall sums it up beautifully in a recent Insta post: “I would like to thank our LOCAL MEDIA and our FB and IG followers for helping us spread the word about the #OURKIDS fundraising campaign. However, I need to raise my hand to remind everybody to STAY ON MESSAGE. The #OURKIDS campaign is NOT about a pastor and a stripper … the immigrant families and #OURKIDS in Mississippi were attacked by Donald Trump’s sh*tty government with support from his sh*tty constituents. THESE ARE NOT OUR PEOPLE but those are #OURKIDS. The ICE raids had an evil financial and political agenda that ripped these “not white” families apart, traumatizing them forever!”

And on that note: for those of you who are interested in getting your hot little hands on one of the #ourkids t-shirts, you can find them here, on Etsy.

Selena Gomez Offered A Special Commencement Speech To Immigrads Celebrating Their Special Achievement

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Offered A Special Commencement Speech To Immigrads Celebrating Their Special Achievement

selenagomez / Instagram

It is graduation season and Covid-19 has changed how we conduct graduation ceremonies. This year, few high school seniors will be able to walk across the stage as states and counties protect their health and offer graduation alternatives. Celebrities have stepped up to give these seniors special commencement speeches.

Selena Gomez wanted to give immigrads a special commencement speech honoring their experience.

“Congratulations to all of the Immigrads,” Gomez says int he video. “I know that this is a virtual ceremony, but it is very real and it is very real to all of the families, and all of you, and your communities. I want you guys to know that you matter and that your experiences are a huge part of the American story.”

Gomez used her speech to connect with the immigrant graduates by relating to their stories.

“When my family came here from Mexico, they set into motion my American story, as well as theirs,” Gomez says. “I’m a proud third-generation American-Mexican, and my family’s journey and their sacrifices helped me get me to where I am today. Mine is not a unique story. Each and every one of you have a similar tale of becoming an American.”

Gomez gave her address for Define American, an immigrant-led organization.

Define American “is a narrative and culture change organization that uses media and the power of storytelling to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America,” reads the website.

Gomez fans are here to support the singer and her speech.

Gomez has used her platform to confront major topics in American politics and society. She produced “13 Reasons Why” to enter the conversation about teenage suicide and has used her social media platform to celebrate undocumented immigrants chasing the American Dream.

Gomez ended her speech giving all of the immigrads some words of encouragement.

“So, regardless of where your family is from, regardless of your immigration status, you have taken action to earn an education, to make your families proud, and to open up your worlds,” Gomez says. “So, I’m sending all of my love to you guys today, and congratulations, and I hope that you guys are set off to be everything that you want to be.”

READ: TV Special “Graduate Together” Gave The Class Of 2020 A Special Send-Off

A 10-Year-Old Girl Sent Over 1,500 Art Kits To Kids Who Are Quarantining While In Foster Care

Fierce

A 10-Year-Old Girl Sent Over 1,500 Art Kits To Kids Who Are Quarantining While In Foster Care

@McDJohanne / Twitter

Talk about a girl with a big heart.

It turns out, kids have no qualms about leading the example when it comes to selflessness and kindness in today’s time of uncertainty. While so many of us bemoan our lack of access to entertainment, friends, and personal care, young generations are looking to offer support where they can. Just look at this 10-year-old from Danbury, Connecticut who understands the importance of empathy, compassion, and love during this time of quarantine.

She worked on a pretty big project to make sure kids her age felt all three.

Chelsea Phaire has spent her time in quarantine sending kits to more than 1,500 children in homeless shelters and foster care homes.

Phaire explained in a recent interview with CNN that she wanted to create the kits to give children something to look forward to and feel positive about. Phaire’s art kits include paper, coloring books, markers, crayons, and colored pencils. They are being sent to schools and shelters across the country as part of an organization founded by Phaire and her parents called Chelsea’s Charity.

“Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity,” Candace Phaire, Phaire’s mother, told CNN. “She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.”

Set to enter the 6th grader this coming fall, Phaire and her parents launched Chelsea’s Charity on her birthday in August 2019.

At the time, Phaire asked party guests to donate art supplies to the charity instead of giving her birthday gifts. Soon after her birthday party, Phaire made the decision to use all of the donations she’d been given to send out her first 40 art kits. The kits were collected and sent to a homeless shelter in New York. It wasn’t long before Phaire and her parents set up an Amazon wishlist account for the art supplies.

Before the pandemic, Phaire and her mother delivered almost 1,000 kits to kids in foster care homes, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and schools impacted by gun violence.

At the time, Phaire and her mother traveled around to give kids their kits in person. Since the start of the pandemic, however they’ve mailed the kits. “I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits,” Phaire explained. “I have definitely grown as a person because of this. Now my dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art. Who knows, maybe if we do that and then our kids do that, we’ll have world peace!”