event memories

“THE ONLY HOME I KNOW” November 16, 2017

The My American Dreams benefit screening drew a large crowd and raised over $12,500 for undocumented fire victims and advocacy for DACA recipients.

“No amount of words could ever describe the emotions I felt the first time I held my work permit or social security card. It was my name and photo on those documents. My life had changed instantaneously.”

To a packed audience at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, DACA recipient Cristian Fertino explained the impact that DACA had on his life. He and fellow DREAMer Denia Candela kept the crowd’s rapt attention as they each recounted their lives before DACA – living in fear, unable to work legally, afraid to travel, disheartened for their own lack of opportunity. Then, after DACA was implemented in 2012, how their lives changed and doors opened for the first time in their lives.

The occasion was the benefit screening of “The Only Home I Know”, a 30-minute film produced by My American Dreams in conjunction with Define American, another non-profit founded by noted immigrant advocate Jose Antonio Vargas. Vargas introduces the film followed by the moving profiles of six local Dreamers. The film was later broadcast on November 20 on our public TV station, KRCB, and will be shared with the PBS network in January.

The night began with a gala reception in the Red Hen Hall, with catered food, donated wine and beer, and music by Walt Hays and Dave Casey. There was also a large silent auction, with many local businesses donating items.

Darren Lashelle of KRCB was emcee for the theater portion of the evening. He introduced My American Dreams’ directors Liliana Gallelli and Christopher Kerosky, who provided a short primer on common myths about immigrants and the difficulties of immigrating under our laws.

After the film, Cristian and Denia each spoke, before introducing 10 other DACA recipients, all from Sonoma County, who were each honored for their achievements. The crowd also heard from filmmaker Rhian Miller and closed with a powerful appeal for support by Mr. Fertino, Ms. Candela and My American Dreams' director Liz Linde.