Thursday, October 17, 2013

Haircuts, Bread for the World, and the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Jack Curtain, Elva Thaemert at Bread picnic in the 1990s
Cutting $465 worth of dreadlocks
The late Elva Thaemert was a dedicated Bread for the World member in Albuquerque. She went to monthly meetings, organized Offerings of Letters at St. Luke Lutheran Church, and attended most, if not all, our local Bread activities. And she was a legacy member of Bread for the World, which means her financial donations supported the long-term needs of the organization.

Since she did not drive, I often gave Elva rides to Bread events, and we engaged in some great conversations. Elva spoke proudly of the opportunies she and her late husband Emil had to spend quality time with Art Simon in Colorado, where he was assigned as a pastor of a local Lutheran congregation.

Elva often mentioned that Emil was Art's barber!

And Art has not forgotten. "I remember her husband as my barber, and a good one, when I was in Denver for my first assignment as a parish pastor," said Bread for the World's founder.

Fast forward a couple of generations to June 2011. Elva had just passed away (see our tribute), and her grandson Justin, was looking for creative ways to honor his grandmother. So Justin decided to cut his his hair. "But he didn’t just go to a barber; instead, he asked his friends to donate money to his grandmother’s favorite justice organizations in exchange for the chance to cut off one of his dreadlocks," said a piece posted in the Bread blog in June 2011, entitled Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: One Man Cuts his Dreadlocks for Hunger.  "He charged $5 per lock cut, or $20 for five locks."

Of the total of $465 that he raised, $105 went to Bread for the World.

So what if Emil Thaemert had been around?  "I'm sure his grandfather would have loved to cut those dreadlocks--but I bet he would be proud of the way it happened," said Art Simon.

Justin, who graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, in 2010, was recently named director of the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice (Check out the group's Facebook page). The passion for social justice in the Thaemert family has continued across generations. Justin's involvement in the immigration issue follows in the footsteps of his father Glen (Emil and Elva's son), who was very involved in the Sanctuary movement, a campaign in the 1980s to to provide safe-haven for Central American refugees fleeing civil conflict."Glen has a long and courageous record of peace-making and working for justice, so Justin comes by his commitment with lots of encouragement," said Art Simon.

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