Stan Allen: UUA Social Justice Star 2021-2022 by Robin Loving
Many of us reach for the stars, but few of us actually become named one. Our own Stan Allen -- whose work on behalf of Central American migrants who make their way to ABBA to restore their weary bodies, minds, and souls – has been named a Social Justice Star by the Unitarian Universalist Association for 2021-2022.
UUA described the importance of this award as inspiring advancement of UU values in challenging times via service and advocacy for social justice. When Pastor Ignacio at ABBA thinks of UUFSMA member Stan Allen’s tireless work on behalf of Central American migrants, he thinks commitment, heart, and passion, and the facts say the same.
A former Peace Corps volunteer and retired clinical social worker, Stan tirelessly dedicates his time to ABBA’s structure, its residents, and its staff via fundraising, transportation, program development, and social uplift, exemplifying UU’s 7 Principles and ABBA’s guiding principles: respect for individuals in all their diversity; defense and protection of individual rights; safety for men, women and children; and delivery of a wide range of humanitarian services that recognize and promote human dignity.
Stan brings great energy, compassion, creativity and care to all at ABBA. His special ability to connect emotionally with ABBA residents and staff, and his talent to see a need and eradicate it, has earned him the trust and mutual support of ABBA’s leader, Pastor Ignacio Martinez Ramirez, the heart and soul of ABBA.
Stan has delivered untold numbers of carloads of necessities, arranged for the delivery of furniture, and taken care of many emergency expenses. To cope with the Pandemic, he connected with a local nonprofit that employed local women to make multi-layered masks, delivering 1,000 to ABBA. His GoFundMe account paid for COVID tests and hundreds of liters of cleaning products for daily sanitizing.
Stan also motivated the SMA community -- including the congregants at UUFSMA -- to donate puzzles, games, and arts and crafts materials, then created a gallery of residents' art. In addition, he rehabbed the sagging basketball hoop, built a ping-pong table, and kept ABBA well stocked with soccer, basketball, and ping-pong balls. His ability to write personal stories with understanding and sensitivity has mobilized concrete, social action on many levels. A GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/abba-house-sanctuary-for-migrants-and-families) that Stan developed, nurtures, and maintains has raised more than $115,000 USD to help purchase the building and a new van, commercial kitchen appliances and supplies, building repairs, hospital expenses, taxes, and legal fees in addition to weekly provisions of food, medicine, clothes, sanitary supplies, and backpacks.
Stan, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, listens carefully and supports ABBA residents who have sacrificed everything, always making things fun. He champions residents taking their first independent steps on prosthetic limbs; and celebrates with asylum seekers when they receive Mexican visas.
Stan seizes upon every opportunity to celebrate the residents and staff with special events and occasions, not letting a single birthday slip by without a celebration complete with cake.
Known as the ABBA Guy, he has attracted and mentored other volunteers, and participated in many community educational events. He facilitates the involvement of UUFSMA members with ABBA, including working with the Social Action Committee to conduct special Sunday collections to meet ABBA’s needs. As a result, the UUFSMA president and treasurer went with Pastor Ignacio to purchase beds and mattresses. Stan feels he gets much more back in return. He is always humbled by the emotional and physical resilience of ABBA residents who have sacrificed everything for safety and opportunity; the enormous daily heart commitment of the ABBA staff; the repeated generosity of the many donors; and the arbitrary unfairness of birthplace.
Stan works closely with the Latin American Relief Fund -- an organization founded by two UUFSMA members and led by other UUFSMA members on its board. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the U.S. that raises funds for ABBA.
Stan has shared updates with UUFSMA’s Google group; and has addressed the Fellowship on the changing needs and challenges at ABBA. With Stan’s leadership, UUFSMA has offered and provided an active, caring community that has helped enrich and extend the reach of ABBA’s care and service. In fact, UUFSMA helped to obtain a grant from Church World Services to help support staffing at ABBA.
Stan’s ABBA success could be replicated by others who choose and are equipped to serve vulnerable populations -- if they have enormous hearts, a belief and commitment that our combined resources can make a difference, the ability to relate to people at all levels, and the ability to prompt unbridled community support.
Stan wishes everyone a safe trip every step of the way. He asks them to take care of each other and to know they are always welcome at ABBA. Most are not seen or heard from again, but many return for a second stay as their hopes and plans to cross the border were thwarted by Customs and Border guards following harsh and cruel immigration policies. Stan Allen’s selfless, fearless, and generous humanitarian services have catalyzed many of what the diverse, vulnerable ABBA Migrant Refugee residents call daily miracles. “Winning this award makes me proud to be a UU, and it motivates me to share the light of hope with others,” said Stan, “but let’s face it, ABBA is the one in the circle of winners here!”
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende Apdo 798, San Miguel de Allende 37700 Guanajuato, Mexico