Amy Hagedorn’s passing last week greatly affected the Long Island Wins family. She was an important influence in our founding and a constant presence in our work.
Amy was the daughter of an immigrant mother who devoted a significant portion of her philanthropy to supporting Long Island’s emerging immigrant communities. She sought ways to help immigrants play an integral role in Long Island life though citizenship and civic engagement. She also spread the word about immigrants’ contributions to our region’s economy and culture.
When immigrants came under attack in Farmingville in 2000, Amy stood up to the loud voices of bigotry in order to help native-born and immigrants communities come together. She created a “listening project” so that all the voices in that communities could be heard, not just the organized anti-immigrant minority that the press paid so much attention to.
When Marcelo Lucero was murdered in 2008, she was instrumental in assisting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s investigation into the role of the Suffolk Police Department in allowing attacks on Latinos to take place. This led to a Justice Department investigation and to the first steps towards reform of that troubled police department.
Amy pressed for alliance building that fostered improved relations between long-time residents and newly arrived immigrants. Her effort was to build cooperation that would strengthen all of Long Island. She also worked to challenge and dispel inaccurate perceptions of immigrants and emphasize immigrants’ contributions to Long Island through Long Island Wins and other efforts.
Amy helped to create day laborer centers to protect immigrant workers and to reduce tensions in communities where immigrants had only recently begun living. She also funded projects to help immigrant workers recover wages stolen by employers and to organize for their rights. When refugee children began arriving from Central America, Amy Hagedorn stepped in immediately to help them find legal representation and medical and mental health services.
Amy believed that the immigrant voice could only truly be heard by elected officials if immigrants became citizens, registered to vote, and were civically engaged. She was dedicated to encouraging immigrants to become fully involved in the American democratic process.
From her roots in an immigrant family to her leadership on immigration issues on Long Island, Amy was consistent in her dedication to make immigrants part of our mosaic. It is with fondness, appreciation, and love that we recall this remarkable woman.