Those who competed in the tournament donated $10 to play, and the proceeds went to Amargon, a new South Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to raising funds to help immigrants and refugees who are in need of emergency assistance.
Supporters of immigrants’ and refugees’ rights came together at The Wander Inn, a bar in the Whitman Section of South Philly, Sunday night for a board game tournament. Those who competed in the tournament donated $10 to play, and the proceeds went to Amargon, a new South Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to raising funds to help immigrants and refugees who are in need of emergency assistance.
“We were trying to find ways that we knew people would enjoy and also want to come out to,” said the organization’s founder, Laura Smith, who is an immigrant herself. “So we thought a board game night would be good for everybody to get together on a Sunday night and chill out.”
Smith said up until this point the organization, which started in May, had been doing happy hour fundraisers to raise money. However, she didn’t want the organization to only be known for happy hours, and thought a board game tournament would be a different, but still fun way to get people out, have some fun, and raise some money.
Attendees played a variety of board games, including Settlers of Catan, Apples to Apples, Monopoly, Jenga and Uno. The games were supplied by Amargon’s board of directors.
While Amargon has a board and a Facebook page, the organization has officially yet to “go live,” Smith said. It’s still in the fundraising phase, so Smith and the board can make sure that they have enough money to hand out to immigrants and refugees who need it. Right now, Smith is hoping to officially have the organization’s nonprofit status designated by February, and then be fully up and running some time in May.
Smith, who teaches English as a Second Language students in her free time, was inspired to start the organization when one of her students had his bike stolen. The bike was the student’s main transportation to and from work, so losing it was a major inconvenience that threatened his livelihood. Eventually, Smith and the other students all chipped in and bought him a new bike.
“I was thinking about more of the fact of how something so simple that’s so little could have such a catastrophic effect on someone’s life,” Smith said. “With regards to immigrants and refugees, there aren’t a lot of resources available.”
Smith said she didn’t feel like she always had a plethora of resources for her as an immigrant, despite being more privileged than most immigrants. That’s because Smith and her sister Chloe came across the pond from England when their father got a job in the States 12 years ago.
“I thought, ‘oh my goodness, for people who aren’t as lucky as I was what would happen if something goes wrong for them?’” she said. “So we wanted to have something where people can turn to when these things happen.”
Right now, Amargon is soliciting donations from people around the area. Once the organization officially earns its nonprofit status, it plans to solicit donations from local businesses and corporations. In the meantime, Smith hopes to keep the organization small, and mostly only reach out to the 19148 ZIP Code, which is the southeastern most section of South Philly. Over time, she hopes to build up the organization and help immigrants and refugees from across the city.
For more information about Amargon, visit the Amargon Facebook page.
Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Smith, who used the word “lucky,” not “wealthy.”