Conversations with Friends

A nonprofit organization

$3,830 raised

15% complete

$25,000 Goal


Conversations with Friends (CWF) is an all-volunteer, humanitarian organization whose members support people jailed by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) at the Freeborn (Albert Lea), Kandiyohi (Willmar) and Sherburne (Elk River) County jails in Minnesota. In addition to our in-person Freeborn visits with those jailed at the Freeborn County Adult Detention Center, we have the privilege and the honor of writing weekly to people jailed by ICE in all three county jails. They are experiencing fear, loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, depression, trauma and/or emotional torture as they face likely separation from their family and friends. We offer friendship, fraternity and solidarity as we support, encourage, listen, affirm, recognize their dignity and advocate on their behalf. Thus, they come to know that people in the community truly care about them and that they are not alone, not abandoned. 

Your financial gift to CWF enables us to:

1) Make modest commissary deposits to those who request economic assistance, primarily so they can call their family. During October 2023, we made commissary deposits averaging $40/month to 125 people jailed by ICE. 

2) Respond to clothing requests from people who have been ordered deported. Year-to-date through Monday, November 13, 2023, we have dropped off 164 "Dignity" backpacks at the Whipple Building in Fort Snelling, up from 69 in all of 2022. The empty backpacks cost an average of $37, the hygiene items, sunglasses and water bottle cost $25, and the requested clothing (e.g., shirts, jeans, shoes, socks and underwear) may cost $114, for a total of about $176 per backpack. The backpacks also provide room for their legal documents.

3) Respond to occasional calls from ICE and immigration attorneys to help someone being released by ICE reach their final destination, oftentimes purchasing a bus ticket, driving them to the bus station and providing a "Dignity" backpack as part of CWF’s Safe Release/Accompaniment Program.

In addition to our visits, CWF letter writers' weekly letters to their detained pen pals, our commissary deposits and "Dignity" backpack program:

- We communicate the names, phone numbers and in-take hours of the pro bono immigration law firms in Minnesota as well as info about the Minnesota Freedom Fund that may be able to provide assistance in paying bond if that is an option.

- We expeditiously fulfill specific book requests.

- CWF Birthday Club members send birthday cards to people jailed by ICE such that many cards are received during their birthday week.

- CWF Sunshine Club members send cards of hope and encouragement to people who have been jailed for extended periods of time, letting them know that many people are thinking of them during these challenging times.

- We raise awareness by giving presentations to various communities and to government officials.

Note, though, that this is not a one-sided relationship where one person is the giver and the other is the receiver. We CWF volunteers receive from those with whom we have the honor and distinct privilege of writing and visiting. The gifts we receive are opportunities:

- To come to realize that people jailed by ICE are not “the other” but rather unique, vulnerable human beings like us.

- To affirm others, acknowledging the injustice of our immigration system and the pain and suffering and emotional trauma of awaiting likely deportation.

- To be that person who figuratively puts a hand on someone’s shoulder, letting them know that members of the community care about their health and safety, something that is so very important, especially for people who have no one.

- To witness the intense faith of many people who feel God has a plan for them and will accompany them on an uncertain journey.

- To be warmly welcomed/accepted as visitors and letter writers into their space.

- To personally learn of the injustice and indecency of our immigration system that jails people who have usually already served their criminal sentence and accepts deportation and the resulting family separation/destruction as an allowable form of punishment.

- To advocate on their behalf, e.g., by calling senators, congresspeople, family, friends and others, educating them about the struggles and realities of those detained based on our first-hand, personal knowledge.

- To get a sense of our own privilege by witnessing the pain that others are experiencing.

- To be enlightened by other people’s perspectives.

- To learn about our pen pals’ birth countries, e.g., favorite foods, important holidays, current conditions, and as a result create a stronger connection.

- To express our own hearts, after receiving letters in which our friends express theirs, and have an authentic relationship.

Giving Activity

Organization Data


Organization name

Conversations with Friends

other names


Tax id (EIN)



Humanitarian Aid Volunteer

BIPOC Serving

BIPOC Serving


EDINA, MN 55435