Volunteers and Financial Donations Needed!
Did you know that there are currently 20 million refugees in the world and that over the next few years 85,000 will be settled in the US? Nearly 900 will be settled in CT. To meet this demand, the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven, has been soliciting co-sponsorship groups from all over CT to assist with resettling families. Locally, the Manchester Community Refugee Resettlement Group (MCRRG) has begun work to eventually be able to tell IRIS that we are ready to welcome a refugee family into our community. Several of us have attended an intensive training at IRIS in New Haven. Judi Durham has agreed to take over coordination of the project from Jen Tierney who has steered it this far. Although we have a small group of volunteers who have taken responsibility for several necessary tasks, we are still in need of others as there is still much work to be done. Below is a brief list of some of the areas in which we need assistance.
- Interpreters: Learn where we can get help from Arabic, French and other Middle Eastern language speakers. Once we know the language of the family we will be assisting, then we will be able to find interpreters to assist as needed.
- Housing: Prior to family’s arrival, find affordable housing and vet potential landlords; once we know our family is arriving soon, sign lease, connect utilities, and get house ready for their arrival.
- Necessary Goods: Gather all home furnishings, clothing, toys, books, etc.
- Hospitality: Pick up at airport in NYC. Need at least two large vehicles for family and luggage and at least five people. Provide appropriate clothing. Provide culturally appropriate meal for their first night and some other food to have on hand.
- Health Care: Judi is point person in this area, but others are needed. Tasks include identifying primary care providers, pediatricians, mental health providers, etc., who accept Husky/Medicaid. Yale Clinic for initial health assessment for each family member within first month.
- Transportation: Get CT transit maps for bus routes. Identify options and teach family to ride bus. Coordinate transportation to all appointments. Drive to appointments.
- Education: Take family to IRIS for a 3-day Cultural Orientation program. Find ESOL class locations and requirements for school enrollment. Register children in school and adults in ESOL classes.
- Acculturation/Hospitality: Teach the family the basics about living in the US: laundry, grocery shopping, bank or money orders, public transportation, e-mail account, government issued ID.
- Employment: Prior to arrival, investigate jobs for service or unskilled workers (kitchens, grocery stores), as well as skilled (manufacturing, etc.) where little English is required. Know where to access specific job vocabulary charts. Be present at IRIS employment assessment. Create resume(s). Help adults find jobs. Assist with application(s) and interview(s).
- Finance/Fundraising: Raise a minimum of $6,000. Oversee resettlement fund-raising and disbursements. Manage reception money and placement money welcome grant. Coach family on household budget, managing resources, credit history. Help family access all possible sources of funding, including food stamps and Temporary Family Assistance (TFA). Apply for SS card within five days of arrival. Help family begin repayment of International Organization for Migration (IOM) loan.
- Attend Training in New Haven: An excellent day-long (9-4) training in which all aspects are explained in greater detail—not required for all volunteers, but very useful in understanding the scope of the project.
Please consider where in this list you might be willing to contribute, either as point person or as a member of the group. Let Judi know what you would like to do and she can tell you which slots are still open (most of them!). (firstname.lastname@example.org; 860 716 7266).
Financial Donations Needed!
$$$$ A job of major importance is raising at least $6,000 to help the family through their first six months by which time we expect they will be self-supporting. Much of this money will be used for rent, but there will be other expenses before jobs have been found for the adults in the family. As this is a Manchester Community Project initiated by Tierney Funeral Home in which we are now participating, there are others besides UUS:E members who are contributing to this fund. We hope UUS:E members and friends will be as generous as possible. If you’d like to contribute, you can make out a check to Manchester Area Council of Churches (MACC) with Refugee Resettlement on the subject line and either mail it to MACC at 466 Main St, Manchester, CT 06040, or give it to Judi Durham or Nancy Parker. If you’d like to use a credit card to donate online, you can go to the MACC donations page. After selecting the credit card you will use, on the bottom of the second page where it asks for Donation Information you designate the Manchester Refugee Project as the recipient of your donation.
IRIS will not give us the green light to settle a family in Manchester until we have at least the $6,000 and all the tasks/donations described above in place. A list of specific items that we need is forthcoming. Also know that we will be welcoming people who have left pretty much everything in their lives behind. In comparison, we have so very much, and their need is very great. Please consider giving as generously as you can both of your time and of your money.