Blog · November 12, 2019
Join Us for the 2nd Annual chefs+togetherSEATTLE Event on 11/14
Chefs+togetherSEATTLE returns on Thursday, November 14, 2019 for the second coming together of local restaurants, cafes, bars, breweries, coffee shops, and sweet shops to raise money for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).
Along with over 150 other Seattle restaurants and businesses, Gourmondo will donate 10% of its proceeds from Thursday, November 14th to the NW Immigrant Rights Project, a Washington state-based non-profit that has been defending and advancing the rights of immigrants in Washington State since 1984 and serves over 20,000 community members from over 130 countries every year.
Last year’s inaugural chefs+togetherSEATTLE event included over 140 participants and raised over $60,000 that helped fund NWIRP’s direct legal services as well as their systemic advocacy efforts.
“Thanks to the support of +togetherSEATTLE, we were able to provide direct legal help to over 200 asylum seekers brought to Washington State as part of the ‘zero tolerance’ policy,” said Raul Alvarez, Development and Communications Coordinator at NWIRP. “Many of them were parents with no idea where their children were and who hadn’t seen them in weeks. We were able to take on their cases, get them credible fear interviews, help them be released on bond, and file for their asylum applications.”
The support of +togetherSEATTLE also helped NWIRP win a landmark settlement against Yakima County when the sheriff’s department was violating the Constitution by holding individuals in the local jail on ICE’s behalf – even after these individuals were entitled to their freedom.
In addition, NWIRP was able to file a lawsuit against the federal government when they began a new policy that would have prevented young people who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned from seeking the protected, documented status the law has expressly provided for them. They fought to have the Ninth Circuit Court re-hear a case addressing whether immigrant children facing deportation should have the right to a court-appointed attorney. And they celebrated a nationwide ruling that will require the government to provide fair and timely bond hearings for asylum seekers.
"As a Seattle food business that employs numerous immigrants, we know that we are stronger because of our employees,” says our founder Alissa Leinonen. “In fact, Gourmondo would not be where it is today without their tireless effort and valuable contributions. We feel it is important, as a company, to stand alongside our co-workers and to support an organization that works to support their rights.”
TogetherSEATTLE was founded by a group of chefs and food entrepreneurs with the belief that all people deserve access to justice, protection from violence and the opportunity to stay together with family, no matter where they were born or how much money they have. Gourmondo has a special reason for joining the cause, as well.
“I am a 4th generation Seattleite,” Alissa continues. “My great-great grandmother emigrated to the United States from Italy and my great grandfather, Dr. Xavier DeDonato, moved to Seattle and became the main physician for a growing immigrant population that settled in Pioneer Square. I'm grateful that my ancestors landed in a country where hard work and determination were rewarded with opportunity. Where basic human rights were celebrated and protected."
“I opened Gourmondo to create a business that offered high-quality products in an environment that supported working families. And over the last 23 years, we've created a family-like environment in which all individuals are respected." Gourmondo has been a proud supporter of the Washington chapter of the ACLU since February 2017, raising thousands of dollars via its boxed lunch program.
The largest legal-services organization serving low-income immigrants and refugees in the Pacific Northwest, the NW Immigrant Rights Project provides legal representation and assistance to immigrants, including representing people who are seeing protection from deportation, safety from violence, the ability to reunite with loved ones, citizenship, or new opportunities in work and education.