Calvin & Eloise Eland - charter members for sure
April 1, 2013 By Judith Whipple
“Seems like people who get elected don’t understand immigration or don’t want to, so they don’t do much about it. If they really want to save money, they could stop throwing people in prison. But....I always have hope,” said Eloise Eland. She and her husband Calvin are charter members of the Green Valley/Sahuarita Samaritans.
When these longtime social activists from Altoona, Wisconsin, an R.N. turned marriage and family counselor and a university professor of education, met co-founder Shura Wallin at Women in Black seminars, their winter months of volunteering were signed and sealed.
Off they went with Shura and Dick and Marilyn Bernard on the very first Search, 02/05/05, carrying along...wheelbarrows. They found no migrants that day, but they did meet Richard Calabro in the desert and took him along as a new recruit. Weekly Searches followed, many on Bethia Daughenbaugh’s Tuesday runs.
The Elands also joined Basura roundups, and Operation Streamline and El Comedor (and its precursor “the tent”) witnessing. At daylong annual Border Fairs, Calvin put on his videographer cap and Eloise worked the kitchen for those midday feasts.
Twice, Eloise and Calvin joined their Unitarian church to volunteer in Guatemala with Habitat for Humanity. And, they have a blended set of five children: one summer, serving a Honduran children’s home with Unitarians, they returned home with an abandoned 16-month-old boy and also adopted an orphaned 5-year-old Mexican/African-American boy from St. Paul. Now, seven grandchildren and six greats claim the Elands
They’ve seen changes since an early encounter in Green Valley. Discovered giving food packs to four migrants, Eloise and Shura were put into a sheriff’s car and accused of trying to transport. “Do you have any weapons?” (Eloise had a pocket knife). The Border Patrol arrived, forbade the migrants to eat, and tried to decide what to do with these so-called Samaritans.
We know how that turned out. Though comprehensive immigration reform awaits, hundreds of migrants have been reassured of their humanity since Eloise and Shura got out of the sheriff’s car and drove away with Calvin.