On Saturday, over 100 members of Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (IX) and supporters gathered in the basement of Bethany Lutheran Church for our first-ever fundraiser, a Kermés.

The board of IX (Ofelia Benites, Mario Zarate and Maria Dolores Cruz, Esperanza Herrera, Jennifer Arnold, Natasha Villanueva, Roberto de la Riva, Anain Lozano, and Guadalupe Gonzales) provided food and drinks that were sold to raise money for an upcoming trip. Two other members also donated. Luis Caguana provided soda and Edain Altamirano brought esquites.

“Thank you all for coming to our big Kermes. We’re here to raise money for our compañeros who are going to Chicago to learn about the housing movement across the country,” Ofelia Benitez told the crowd as laughing children ran around behind her.

Esperanza, Edain, Jen, and Roberto are traveling to Chicago, IL, on Thursday this week (April 14) to attend the Right to the City: Homes For All retreat. The Kermes raised over $1,000, about 75% of the cost of the trip. The other 25% comes from a grant from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

Anain Lozano spoke about the impact IX has had on her life,  “I just want to thank Roberto, Natasha, and Jennifer. They don’t realize how much they’ve meant to us, but because of their work, we’ve learned to be brave.”

After the kermes, Anain spoke more about what she did to get ready. “The day before, I didn’t go to bed until a quarter to one, because I had to prepare all the shrimp for the ceviche because it had to be in the lemon juice all night.”

The next day Anain was exhausted, and was late getting to the Kermes. “I was really nervous, especially as it got closer,” she said. “I kept thinking ‘how’s it going to end up, who’s going to come?’”

She didn’t need to worry. “A professional chef who came, he’s been a chef for 20 years, said it was the best ceviche he’d ever had. All the people I invited are saying it was a big success.”

To Anain, the most important part was the company, “Seeing the people who came, and the interest they had in supporting us, impacted me. I really felt the love of the community in that space.”

Her thoughts are already moving to our next Kermes, “My mind has been working since then about what we can do better for next time.” She says that she has already found someone to donate food.

I can’t wait!