About

Mission

Casa Alterna is a community of hospitality comprised of recently arrived asylum seekers and US citizens. Since August 2020, we have hosted hundreds of asylum-seeking guests from over 50 countries.

History

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2000 – A FAMILY IS CREATED. Anton and Charlotte adopt Jairo, a two-year-old from Guatemala. They commit to raising him in a multicultural family with ties to Guatemala and Guatemalan immigrants.

2001 – A FRIENDSHIP IS FORMED. Anton and Charlotte Flores and Arturo and Norma Martinez befriend one another while worshiping in a Spanish-language church.

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2002 – NEIGHBORS BECOME FAMILY. Norma develops end-stage renal disease and requires stable, hygienic housing. Anton and Charlotte purchase a second home where Arturo and Norma reside at below market cost and with an extra incentive of equity sharing after living in the house for three years.

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2006 – A LEAP OF FAITH. Anton resigns from a tenure-track college faculty position to devote his vocational energies to launching a ministry rooted in a community called Alterna. 

2007 – LET MY PEOPLE GO! Following a hunger strike in a recently opened immigration detention center, Alterna partners with Koinonia Farm and School for Conversion to hold the first vigil outside Stewart Detention Center. Alterna would also become a charter member of Georgia Detention Watch, with Anton serving on the charter steering committee.

2008 – AND YOU VISITED ME… In conjunction with Georgia Detention Watch, Alterna organizes humanitarian and solidarity visitations at Stewart Detention Center. 

2009 – #ShutDownStewart. The annual #ShutDownStewart vigil aligns with the yearly gathering of thousands demanding the closure of the School of the Americas (WHINSEC) at Fort Benning. By 2015, 1400 protestors marched to the facility’s gates, demanding its closure. 

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2010 – A HOUSE OF REFUGE. Alterna births El Refugio, a house of hospitality and visitation ministry serving immigrants at Stewart Detention Center and their loved ones.

2012 – INSPIRING OTHERS. After an exploratory visit by Sarah Jackson of Colorado, she returns home and forms Casa de Paz outside the Aurora Processing Center, another immigration detention facility.

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2015 – COMMUNITY AT THE CENTER OF OUR LIFE. The Alterna community reaches a peak number of residential members, with nine households residing in the same neighborhood as either member of our cooperative housing, faith fellowship, and/or intentional community.

2016 – TRAGEDY STRIKES. Two back-to-back deaths send the entire community into a life-altering experience of deep, collective grief in need of grace.

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2017 – RISING FROM THE ASHES. With deaths and relocation, the Alterna Community disbands. In its place, Anton and Charlotte establish Casa Alterna, a hospitality house in a Latinx immigrant neighborhood. Healing happens, and the love of neighbor is expressed via community organizing, after-school tutoring, and a food cooperative. 

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2019 to present – WELCOME, FRIENDS. With Jairo now at university and Arturo happily remarried, Anton & Charlotte decide to return to Atlanta, where they first met and fell in love. Anton accepts a residency with the Atlanta Friends Meeting (Quakers). During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new expression of hospitality, mercy, and justice emerged. The meetinghouse was transformed into a space where lodging, accompaniment, and assistance are offered at no cost to individuals and families fighting for asylum and against deportation.