Who We Are
Sin Barreras is a small local Non Governmental Organization offering services to the immigrant, mostly Hispanic community. Founded in 2012 by five Charlottesville residents concerned that immigrants were not availing of social services because of language obstacles, and there was no organization adequately addressing other Hispanic immigrant issues, it was awarded its 501(c)(3) status in July, 2014. After three years run completely by volunteers, in 2016 it won a grant to begin paying its first part-time office person, now in 2019 up to one full-time and three part-time staff. It consists of a five-member Board, four staff, two long-term volunteers, and two-dozen short-term volunteers.
As members of the Central Virginia community who directly or indirectly know the challenges faced by immigrants in the United States, our mission is to work for a more just community that includes and seeks to meet the needs of all its members. We know there are unmet needs for services and assistance to help individuals and families who have arrived to our community and country. We help them obtain educational, legal, advocacy, health, and other services. We help ease the stress and anxiety experienced by members of our immigrant communities and to assist them integrate to fuller participation U.S. society.
What We Do
We have four areas of high activity. Three of them address daily critical Hispanic immigrant needs while providing a local response to the anti-immigrant Executive Orders of Jan. 2017, the cancellations of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), threats to Temporary Protective Status (TPS holders), and at-high-risk DREAMers. They are:
- Workshops on themes of high interest to the immigrant community: in 2018 15 events for 1,200 attendees.
- Individual client services in legal and immigration, 538 clients in 2018.
- Advocacy on Latino issues, working with nearly a dozen organizations such as the Charlottesville City Council and Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, local Law Enforcement, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and a dozen other other colleague organizations lobbying the Virginia legislature and other authorities.
- We also host an annual music and dance festival called Cville Sabroso, the area’s only Hispanic music and dance festival that reaches the wider Charlottesville community, with 2,400 attendees in 2018.
Fanny Smedile, President
Fanny Smedile was born in Columbe, Ecuador, where she studied Business Administration and worked for a hospital and a clinic that offered service to the poorest of the poor in the area. She also worked for a Justice Court and in the Riobamba-Ecuador Tourism Center. In 1988, she had the opportunity to come and live in New Jersey, where she herself felt what all immigrants feel in one moment or another when they leave behind what they have known all their lives and encounter language barriers, difficulties finding a job, working long hours, adapting to the new culture, and missing family and friends, among other things. Her main objective has always been to work for those in need and help provide them with social and health services.
Fanny was very active at Saint Mary Church in Pompton, NJ, where she worked to begin a Hispanic community and outreach. Different programs were established, such as a home for new immigrants, ESL classes, health clinics, and a Hispanic celebration to honor the many different Latino cultures. In 2000, Fanny and her family relocated to Lake Monticello, VA and almost immediately, she began involvement with the justice and charity programs offered through the church; first at Saint Thomas and then at Incarnation. She was one of the founders of Creciendo Juntos in Charlottesville. All of her work has had and continues to have, the purpose of bringing needed services to members of the Hispanic community.
Fanny works tirelessly to create a better place for Hispanic members of our community. As she always says when talking about her accomplishments, “This is not only my achievement, but the work that we have achieved in conjunction with great people and organizations that want to achieve the same objectives. Without them, I could have never succeeded.” There are no better words that summarize her work than what she herself says: “I’ve cried, I’ve rejoiced, and I’ve shared with the Hispanic community the joys and struggles of life. I will continue doing it as long as my God give me strength.
Clay Wilcher, Director of Finance
Clay is from Charlottesville Virginia went to Albemarle High School. After High school moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and took grant writing classes at University Nevada Las Vegas. He has a proven track record of 24 years of business management and sales background in various business ventures over the years.
He has been a Vice President in the banking industry for the last 12 years with HSBC North America Consumer Lending Division. In 2010, he worked in conjunction with his wife Malinda and Delegate Rob Bell to pass legislation, HB921, in the state of Virginia. It requires Social Services, Police Departments, and any other entity involved in child abuse cases to retain all information and records for twenty-five years.
Clay believes that unless you are an American Indian, we our all immigrants to this country through our ancestors. With proper education, we all could have a better understanding of the plight of the immigrant community and why they want to come to the United States of America.
Janie Eckman, Board Secretary
Janie Eckman has a B.S. in Psychology and a M.S. in Human Services Administration. She brings experience in family services, community organizing, and justice and charity work to Sin Barreras. Before her move to Charlottesville in 2003, Janie worked for the Family Services Division in Wilmington, Delaware as a Family Crisis Therapy supervisor in foster care and adoption.
Since 1991, she has taught English as a Second Language (ESOL) to immigrants, and since 2004 she has been volunteering as a family mentor for refugee families through the International Rescue Committee. In 2006 she became involved in IMPACT, an interfaith community organization that addresses the systemic causes of injustice, inequality and poverty in the Charlottesville area. A combination of these experiences influenced her decision to assist in providing direct services and advocacy for the region’s growing Hispanic population through Sin Barreras.
“All over the world, immigrants struggle against tremendous odds to provide for themselves and their families with dignity. It is a privilege and joy to be involved in Sin Barreras’s work to walk with them in love and humility, with the dedication and hard work of its members and generous volunteers.”
Sheila Herlihy, Director of Public Affairs
Sheila Herlihy is the Coordinator of Justice and Charity at the Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville. She was born and raised in Ohio, and has since traveled to various parts of the country and the world, learning about and participating in different cultures. Being fluent in Spanish has helped her work with immigrants in Philadelphia, Delaware, and now in Charlottesville. Participating in Sin Barreras has been a great experience for Sheila, who wants to help build a more inclusive community around her.
Edgar Lara, Director of Community Engagement
Edgar grew up in California’s central valley where he spent several summers as a migrant worker throughout California. Despite the challenges and obstacles faced having an undocumented single mother in a largely undocumented community it gave him the strong work ethic, family values, and sense of community and justice he carries in his work.
After high school, he joined the Marine Corps where he was exposed to many countries and cultures, including deployment to the Middle East. He received his B.S. in Business Economics from UCLA and worked in consulting and business finance for 10 years, during which he arrived to Charlottesville in 2012. The past few years in the US have seen a growth of hate, demonization of immigrants, and an all-out attack on our society’s most vulnerable communities which prompted him to step away from his career to dedicate more time to helping give our local Hispanic immigrant population a voice and supporting them through Sin Barreras.
“I’m proud of my roots and where I come from, but I’m as American as anyone. I’m doing what I can to make my country better. Supporting the immigrant community, regardless of status, is how I’m doing it because we’re all better off because of their sacrifices and contributions.”
Javier Raudales was raised for most of his life in Charlottesville and graduated from UVA with a B.A. in Foreign Affairs and holds a Master in Public Administration from George Mason University’s School of Public Administration. His passion with civic engagement and volunteer work led to his interest in working in nonprofits, and he returned to Charlottesville to pursue a career in the not-for-profit sector in a place he feels is home. He found in Sin Barreras a place where he can use his privilege, skills, and knowledge to help our community with passion, sensitivity, and solidarity.
Chayla Rowley grew up overseas where she developed a love of people and a passion for social justice. After graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a concurrent BS and MS in Civil Engineering for Developing Communities, she worked for the U.S. Government in the Colorado Rockies to conserve natural resources and to promote civil rights. In her spare time, she engaged young women in leadership & self-confidence building activities, volunteered for immigrant organizations, and promoted and encouraged American Indians in the STEM fields.
When her grandparents began needing more assistance and her parents needed help with their farm, she moved to Virginia and began searching for part-time work where she could give back to her community and still be available for her family. She was so happy to find Sin Barreras! The passion of those associated with S.B. and the ability to interact in a multicultural setting drew her right in. She is so pleased to be sharing her skills with such a wonderful community!
Luz is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has held a variety of responsibilities in both the public and private sector. In the private sector, she was a client guide of the first Business Center in the Dominican Republic, Plaza NACO, and by the end of her service became the Director. Afterwards she was put in charge of a company called Alfonso’s Decorations. In the public sector she worked for various state entities, including participating in organizing gastronomic festivals in the D.R. Each work situation had its own wonderful experiences but what she most enjoyed was participating in folkloric events throughout the country, also including international events such as in Puerto Rico, Venezuela , San Martin and others.
We are always looking for people to help us reach out to those new to our community. Regardless of whether you have a specialized talent, your help is appreciated. We are especially in need of lawyers, interpreters, medical professionals, teachers, and any others interested in offering pro-bono services to the immigrant community. Both short- and long-term volunteers are welcome!
Opportunities with Colleague Organizations
(Full-Time, 40 Hrs/Wk) – Trauma Counselor is responsible for providing clinical assessment and specialized treatment to children and youth who are victims of trauma as well as their caregivers. In addition to the ReadyKids office, treatment may be provided in the Southwood Community. Fluent in both English and Spanish. Master’s degree in counseling, social work, or related field. State licensure or license eligible in designated field. Minimum of 2 years experience working with children, teens and families. Knowledge of treatment needs for abused and neglected children and at-risk youth. Open until filled. Go to www.readykidscville.org for full position description and application procedures. ReadyKids, Inc. EOE/ADA/AA.