Grannies Respond holds online art auction

“This is first-world work. Third-world work is walking 1,200 miles with a toddler on your hip, toward a better life.”

— Pixie Holbrook

    Four activist grandmothers in western Massachusetts have teamed up with more than two dozen artists in their area to raise money to assist migrants who are trapped in an inhumane limbo at the United States/Mexico border, as they wait to apply for asylum and gain entry into the U.S.

    Pixie Holbrook, Ruth Bowman and Michelle Sanger, all of Conway, Massachusetts, and Linda Sarage of Greenfield, Massachusetts, all retired educators and longtime social justice advocates, have collaborated with 27 artists to create “The Hilltown Online Arts Auction,” with 100-percent of the proceeds going to Grannies Respond/Abuelas Responden, a grassroots, non-profit organization that provides direct assistance to immigrants at the border and in communities across the country. 

    The Grannies Respond mission is to provide and elicit compassionate and respectful support for asylum seekers and immigrants who are seeking safety and security in the United States.

    Grannies Respond formed in spring 2018 in response to the immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border and, specifically, to reports that migrant children were being separated from their families and housed in detention “cages.” 

    The Grannies traveled to the border in July 2018 to see for themselves what the needs are, on the ground, and to shine a national light on the inhumanity of the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies.

    Since then, Grannies Respond has formed chapters across the country that provide direct, daily aid to migrants and asylum seekers at the nation’s southern border. In addition, through its nationwide program, “The Overground Railroad,” Grannies Respond volunteers meet traveling migrants at bus stations in cities across the country to provide them with food and toiletry items, clothing, travel assistance, including translations services, along with warm smiles and encouragement, as the migrants make their way to the homes of family members and community hosts who will house them while they await immigration court dates.

    What’s more, with the recent administration policy change that prevents migrants seeking asylum from entering the U.S. as they wait to complete their applications, Grannies Respond volunteers now cross the southern border daily with food and other assistance.

A need to help

    Holbrook said when she and her fellow local activists heard about the work Grannies Respond is doing, they knew immediately they wanted to help. They formed Western Mass Grannies Respond to raise money for the national organization. 

    “The problems are enormous. But, we can each do one small piece, it can work. I’ve seen that happen,” Holbrook said. “It’s excruciating to do nothing, so you find avenues for making change. Creating this auction gives all of us the chance to donate fully, while acquiring art that will enrich our home and our day. It’s a win-win.”

    Among the items featured in the auction, which is sponsored in part by the Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR), will be jewelry, fabric art, paintings, photography, pottery, wood, glass and stone.

    Among those who have stepped up is world-renowned glass artist Josh Simpson (, who donated one of his famous glass planets. “Inhabited Planet” CONTEMPORARY GLASS (Red New Mexico) was created using a special technique the artist employs only once a year. By adding copper with manganese and silver to the glass, Simpson produces a planet of unusual colors that vary from deep terracotta to a brighter orangey red, with additions of black, blue, green and sometimes even yellow.

    “The artists have been so generous. They get called on a lot to donate to lots of causes, but everyone was so eager to help. I have great respect for them,” Holbrook said. “We hoped to get 20 pieces, but It was like a blink, and we had 48 pieces.”

A worthy cause

    “This is such a good cause,” said mosaic artist Cynthia Fisher of Buckland ( Fisher, who specializes in large-scale public art projects, says she didn’t hesitate to donate a work, “Earth, Our Planet,” a 12-inch-by-14-inch glass mosaic tile. 

    “As artists, we are deluged with invitations to donate to causes. With this one, there was no hesitation; I’m thrilled to do it,” Fisher said. “My heart goes out to those trying to come here for a better life. No one wants to leave their homes, the own countries. They only leave if there’s nothing for them.”

    Polly French (, who creates nature-inspired mixed media, also says she didn’t hesitate to donate, and, indeed, made two original pieces for the auction.

    “This has helped me alleviate some of the helplessness and, indeed, shame I have been feeling,” French said. “There is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ People do not deserve to be treated as U.S. Immigration has been treating the asylum seekers.” 

The particulars

    The auction went live Sunday, Oct. 27, at 6 a.m. 

To view the auction items and start bidding, visit:

Bidding will end Sunday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m.

Payments will be made through the secure FCCPR Paypal account.

The Western Mass. Grannies Respond will deliver items to the top bidders within 50 miles of Greenfield, Massachusetts. Top bidders from farther away will be asked to pay shipping costs. 

To learn more about Grannies Respond/Abuelas Responden, and/or to donate directly,

New Sanctuary Coalition Gala 2019


Please join New Sanctuary Coalition as we celebrate our Friends and honor the achievements of two great labor leaders and champions of immigrants' rights--the late Hector Figueroa, President of SEIU 32BJ, and Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the Taxi Workers’ Alliance.

25 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011
Google map and directions

6:30 pm Reception (drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and live music) 
7:30 pm Program including musical performances by outstanding NYC musicians

** Festive attire requested **

For general information or corporate sponsorship, please contact

For more information, click here.

**IMPORTANT PUBLIC COMMENT: DNA-Sample Collection From Immigration Detainees

“The Department of Justice is proposing to amend regulations that require DNA-sample collection from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-United States persons who are detained under the authority of the United States. The amendment would strike a provision authorizing the Secretary of Homeland Security to exempt from the sample-collection requirement certain aliens from whom collection of DNA samples is not feasible because of operational exigencies or resource limitations. This will restore the Attorney General's plenary legal authority to authorize and direct all relevant Federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-United States persons who are detained under the authority of the United States.”

To leave your comment (must be done BEFORE November 12, 2019), click here.

NY Grandmother Gives Account of Conditions at US/Mexico Border


'Going to the Border and Seeing the Conditions with My Own Eyes Was Shocking'
By Rachna Daryanani

I’m a grandmother of four, but all the kids in my neighborhood in Queens, New York, seem to believe I’m their grandma, which I encourage.

In the last few years I have become aware of the rise in an attitude of “you versus me.” The “us” in U.S.A. seems to be slowly fading away, and it bothers me tremendously.

I came to the United States in 1984 from Mumbai, India, as a young mother of two, and have worked hard to thank the country of my choice for giving me the chance to better myself.

To read more, click here. Article originally appeared in the August 2019 GR/AR newsletter.


Today we celebrate, not the indignities of immigration laws and rules put forth, not the separation of children which we protested against (which is still happening), not the deaths of immigrant children that were in Border Control's care, not this administration's undying efforts to make seeking asylum more and more difficult.

Today we step back to take just a moment to celebrate the union of 30 people from the Beacon, NY area who traveled in a caravan through six states last July 31st, to peacefully protest the separation of children and arrived at the border 200 strong, and the fact that we have continued our organization and now have many groups and hundreds of volunteers across the nation - hundreds and hundreds of people who care about humanity, the rights of people to seek asylum in our county, and their right to be treated with dignity. We celebrate the many like-minded hearts and minds of people who have stepped up and volunteered by:

• Organizing Grannies Respond groups in several cities
• Fundraising
• Shopping or procuring donated goods
• Making up kits including hygiene products, snacks, and more
• Going to bus stations day after day to hand to out these kits and to ensure the safe passage of asylum-seekers across the country
• Making a documentary about us called "From Beacon to the Border"
• Participating in press, video, Facebook, magazine, and internet articles
• Aligning us with like-minded groups to strengthen our united work
• Going to the border to assist our partner organizations: The Angry Tias and Abuelas, Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center, and Team Brownsville 
• Arranging for Clark University students to participate in an internship program to volunteer at the border for a month
• Donating legal services and time
• Donating money
• Helping formalize Grannies Respond as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization
• Participating as members of our wonderful Board of Directors, which enables us to continue to raise awareness and be a conduit for those who want to help

Today we celebrate you! Thank you to all who have contributed to create and expand Grannies Respond / Abuelas Responden, Inc. so we could sustain our ability to serve.
Happy Birthday Grannies! 💖

Catherine Cole and Beth Yeager
Co-Executive Directors Grannies Respond / Abuelas Responden, Inc.

Shelburne Falls native volunteers at southern border

Halley Glier stands with three of her classmates at a respite center for asylum seekers in McAllen, Texas. Glier has been volunteering at the center for the past three weeks. Contributed photo

Halley Glier stands with three of her classmates at a respite center for asylum seekers in McAllen, Texas. Glier has been volunteering at the center for the past three weeks. Contributed photo

McALLEN, Texas — As the southern border floods with people seeking refuge in the United States, last month Halley Glier of Shelburne Falls took a bus to Texas with her college classmates to offer some support.

Glier, 22, a graduate of Mohawk Trail Regional School, has been volunteering for the past three weeks at Catholic Charities Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

“My overall experience has been amazing,” Glier said. “I’ve been able to learn a lot about the immigration system in general from all of the people around me. Respite requires so much constant adaptation and figuring out how to best function … I like to think that I’ve gotten this skill down over my three weeks, but there’s always more to learn.”

To read more, click here.

Group of local grandmas lead 'overground migrant railroad'

As the nation stands divided over immigration, a group of grandmothers, are showing compassion toward migrants being let out of detention centers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – At first, it was a running joke for Sharon and Beth.

Their 4-person mission has grown exponentially since last year when the pair had a real moral crisis on how they can help families, mothers, fathers, and children separated at the US-Mexico border.

“When we first started this mission, it was just three Presbyterian women and an 89-year-old priest,” Sharon Kutz-Mellem said. Now, the group totals nearly 200 volunteers.

To read more, click here.