In 2000, our founder, Fanny Smedile, moved to Charlottesville from New Jersey, where she had been very involved with a community center supporting the Latinx community for many years. As an Ecuadorian immigrant herself, Fanny immediately saw the need for similar services in Charlottesville, and she took on the work herself.
In frequent collaboration with the outreach office of her church, she gave out her cell phone number to whomever might need it and connected Spanish speakers and recent immigrants with resources from food to interpretation to legal support. In 2012, Sin Barreras/Without Barriers was established by Fanny and four other passionate people. We began with a tiny office at a church which was open four hours a week, and we hosted monthly legal clinics. Sin Barreras was designated a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2014 and we hired our first staff member in 2016.
Although we are a small organization we have an extraordinary reach, having served over 9,000 Spanish-speakers and immigrants including DACA recipients, asylum-seekers, recent arrivals, and long-time resident families and individuals. We now engage in advocacy and outreach in addition to direct services.
We maintain the heart and community spirit of our founders, and our office phone number is Fanny’s old cell phone number, because everyone always knew they could call her for help. In 2019, Fanny was awarded the Governor of Virginia’s Latinx Leadership Award, and Sin Barreras/Without Barriers is happy to carry the legacy of care that she still inspires.
We rely on a dedicated and passionate group of volunteers who believe in the dignity of all peoples and value diversity. Many of our volunteers are either personally touched by the issue of immigration or have spent time living and working outside the United States.