Keene Thanksgiving event promotes virtue of caring for othersBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent November 24. 2017 4:33AM
KEENE — More than 100 people spent Thanksgiving morning at the Keene Public Library for the event “Faith in Humanity: Spend a Morning in Solidarity with Eleazar Ayala and Other Separated Families.”
“I can’t think of a better place I would want to be,” said Dottie Morris, Keene State College vice president for institutional diversity and equity, when addressing the standing-room-only crowd.
Morris asked the crowd to turn to their neighbor and share why they were there that morning.
“I’m here to support people who don’t necessarily have it as easy as us. We have lots to be thankful for, but we understand other people have lots of needs,” Hailey Mackey of Westmoreland said, who brought her two sons Levi, 6, and Brice, 9.
Other people said they wanted to spend the morning with like-minded people, some said they want to stand up for undocumented immigrants so that they can have the same opportunities their ancestor received when they arrived in the U.S.
Mohammad Saleh organized the event in conjunction with the Keene Immigration and Refugee Partnership after Saleh learned the story of Eleazar Ayala, an undocumented Honduran citizen who came to the U.S. to flee the poverty of his country and settled in Manchester.
Ayala has three minor children who are U. S. citizens.
This summer Ayala was in Deerfield when he got a flat tire. The incident led to police discovering he is an undocumented immigrant. He is currently in jail and awaiting deportation.
Saleh said he did not reach out to the Ayala family or invite them because he wants to respect their privacy, but also because he sees value in caring for people regardless of whether you know them personally or not.
“My whole idea is promoting the virtue of caring for people you do not know,” Saleh said. “We want to use this wave so it spreads and helps everybody. … Every community, every city, has someone who has a story like this. ”