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Assisting Afghans by Areas of the State – Charlottesville

Q: I live in a small town near Charlottesville and know that we don’t have as good a public transportation system as some other cities. Are there ways I can help my new neighbors get around our area?

A: International Rescue Committee (IRC) anticipates welcoming dozens of families in the coming weeks and is exploring new ways to support them. While we prefer housing that is near both public transportation and a grocery store, meeting the needs of a large number of families arriving within a few months means that we will be expanding the geographic scope of our resettlement area. In partnership with faith and civic organizations to co-sponsor families (include link to the HOME info), IRC plans to begin settling families outside of the immediate Charlottesville area. Most of the surrounding communities depend heavily on cars to get around. A donated car not only allows families to shop for groceries, seek medical care, and meet with other service providers, it also gives adults in the family greater access to good-paying jobs to support their families.
To support this effort we are seeking from the community:

  • Donated vehicles, especially minivans in running order. Vehicles should be safe and reliable and have recently passed inspection. We ask that all donated cars be inspected within 30 days of donation, to insure there are no surprises shortly after the families receives them. If you have a car that might be suitable, please contact us at [email protected] We can provide you with all the necessary documentation for tax purposes.
  • A 15-passage van or similar size for the IRC to use to drive larger families to and from appointments with various service providers. Unlike many other IRC offices, the IRC in Charlottesville does not have a van, and staff use their personal vehicles to drive families. With many larger families arriving, this can require staff and volunteers in 2-3 vehicles to escort families to appointments in their first days and weeks in the U.S.
  • Donated services from mechanics and detailers in the community to help make minor repairs and clean up vehicles to give to clients. IRC can provide a tax receipt for labor at the provider’s standard hourly rate.
  • Safe places to park donated vehicles temporarily, ideally within a 10 minute drive of downtown. This could be at a private residence or a business or community building with addition parking and appropriate security. Because it can take some time to get appointments at the DMV to handle the title transfer and registration, we need a safe place to park a donated car in the days between when the donor gives us the vehicle and when we are able to pass it on to a family.
  • Volunteers to assist families with obtaining insurance, title and tags. Volunteers need to be approved IRC volunteers (link to application and process), with large blocks of daytime availability to accompany a licensed driver and interpreter, if needed, to the DMV.
  • Donate rideshare credits to Uber or Lyft.

Please contact [email protected] for more information regarding any of these opportunities to contribute to our efforts to welcome Afghans and other refugees to Central Virginia. I

Check out this link for more information: https://www.rescue.org/announcement/drive-refugees-forward

Q: My church in the Charlottesville area has a lot of active groups (UMW, Youth, Sunday Schools, etc.). What would be a good way for us to get involved?

A: The IRC in Charlottesville offers a number of fun team oriented activities. These activities range from group work days at New Roots Farm to organizing a fundraising event. Gather a group of friends, family members, or co-workers and get involved! For more information, contact [email protected].
Current opportunities:

New Roots Farm & Garden Workdays (on-site)

Throughout the spring and summer, our New Roots team and farmers need extra hands to help out at the Farm. In addition to Tuesday evening work-days that are open to all interested in helping (please RSVP to Ne[email protected] before coming), inquiries about special opportunities for groups are also welcome. Groups are typically hosted on Saturday mornings. Groups larger than 50 are more difficult to accommodate.

In-Kind Donations Drives (off-site)

Consider hosting a dish drive, a back-to-school drive, or a holiday toy drive! Drives are a great way to spread the word about the IRC and have multiple hands contribute to our mission of serving refugee families. Suggested drives include:

  • Personal Hygiene Bundles: soap, lotion, deodorant, hair brush/comb, razors, tooth brushes, tooth paste, towel set, toilet paper, shampoo / conditioner
  • Household Bundles: Multi-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, sponges, scrub brush, toilet cleaner, hand soap, laundry detergent, mop/broom, paper towels, bucket
  • Diapers: especially sizes 4 and up, plus wipes
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Fundraising Events (off-site)

Invite your friends and family for dinner, tea, or a dance party and ask for a suggested donation at the door, making your guests aware ahead of time why you’re hosting this time around!

Running a race this year or next? Ask your supporters to donate a dollar or ten for each mile you conquer! You can set up your own fundraising page through Crowdrise.

If you are a teacher or student, consider holding a “Change for Refugees” coin drive or penny war among your class(es) and donating the total raised to the IRC in Charlottesville.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

Q: I want to volunteer directly with the Afghan families arriving in the Charlottesville area? What options do I have?

The IRC is looking for volunteers to help with their programs! https://www.rescue.org/volunteer Current opportunities include:
HOTEL MENTOR VOLUNTEER POSITION: Housing Mentors will provide English language lessons, regular check-ins, job readiness training (JRT) and friendship to newly arrived refugee individuals or families. Mentors will concentrate on checking in with the client weekly to ensure they have everything they need. Additionally, mentors will work with the client to increase their ability to communicate and succeed in their new life by building practical vocabulary, answering their questions, and encouraging them with social interaction and support.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Submit a volunteer application https://rescueglobal.secure.force.com/volunteer/ , attend Volunteer Orientation, attend an interview with the volunteer coordination team, and attend a JRT training.
Must undergo and pass a background check. The IRC kindly requests a $35 fee to assist in covering the cost of this requirement.
Visit your assigned family on a weekly basis and report any needs to the Hotel Mentor Coordinator Volunteer.
Assist the family members with ESL instruction as needed.
Conduct the Job Readiness Training (JRT) with clients.
Be sensitive to the cultural and personality differences of the refugee clients. Respect their beliefs and values, which may differ from yours.
Notify the clients directly if you are unable to be present one week.
Communicate regularly with the Hotel Mentor Coordinator Volunteer, keeping them advised of concerns or changes affecting the refuge client and/or your volunteer assignment.
Maintain proper boundaries with your client(s). Refer issues related to employment, social services, and health care to the Hotel Mentor Coordinator Volunteer.
Record hours tutored each session, and submit a completed time sheet at the end of each month.
REQUIREMENTS:

Excellent knowledge and command of the English language is essential.
Commitment to working with refugees and willing to learn about cross-cultural communication and ethnic backgrounds of clients
Ability to travel to client’s hotel at least once a week
Willing to adhere to IRC volunteer and workplace policies, including confidentiality policies and respect for family experiences.
This position reports to the Volunteer Coordinator

New Roots Farm Volunteer
Start date: Ongoing
New Roots Charlottesville supports refugee food security and aids in their transition to the community through gardening, nutrition education, local food access initiatives and small business farming. IRC currently manages New Roots Farm and a few community gardens around town, in addition to providing training and support to numerous additional locations.

Responsibilities:

Help staff and farmers out with ongoing projects (e.g. planting, cleaning, harvesting, organizing, etc).
Please bring water, gardening gloves, sun-protection, and dress for the weather. Workdays will be cancelled for inclement weather.
Skills/Qualifications:

Apply to be a volunteer https://rescueglobal.secure.force.com/volunteer/, attend orientation, and have an interview with out volunteer coordination team
Volunteers must be willing to work hard and get their hands dirty!
Open to all community members (children must be supervised)
Apartment Set-up Volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
LOCATION: Varies, in Charlottesville

TIME COMMITMENT: 10 hours/month, more at busy times

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Attend Volunteer Orientation
Communicate with IRC staff about preparing apartments to be ready to receive newly-arriving refugee families
Following specified list of items, shop at WalMart and Kroger for household and basic food supplies to prepare home for new family
“Shop” the IRC’s donations to supplement required items and make the apartment warm and welcoming
Set the apartment up with purchased and donated items, including but not limited to making beds, putting kitchens supplies in cabinets, and other tasks as needed.
Assist the Development Coordinator and Volunteer Coordinator with identifying and delivering additional donated furniture and home decor. May include assembling furniture.
Stage apartment with furniture, household and food supplies prior to family’s arrival
Maintain receipts and other documentation of purchases for IRC records
Record hours and submit a completed time sheet at the end of each month via the IRC’s online Volunteer Dashboard
REQUIREMENTS:

Available on an as-needed basis
Reliability, attention to detail
Work well under pressure
Flexible and adaptive to change
Excellent communication skills
Ability to lift 40lbs
Valid driver’s license and a reliable vehicle with current insurance and the ability to travel throughout the regular service delivery area
Willing to adhere to IRC Volunteer and workplace policies, including confidentiality policies

This position reports to the Volunteer Coordinator.

Resettlement Store Volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
Location: IRC in Charlottesville Office

Time Commitment: Minimum 4-month commitment. Minimum of 2.5 hours every other week.

Responsibilities: The IRC houses a “Resettlement Store” where refugees can shop for donated items such as clothing, household goods, toys, kitchenware, and linens. We always need people to help process in-kind donations and keep the shop organized. Due to COVID-19 precautions, our “store” is currently closed but we are delivering donations to clients. We currently need volunteers to help sort and organize donations and bring them to clients’ homes.

Skills/Qualifications: Excellent multitasking and organizational skills, comfortable working in a multicultural environment, ability to stand and walk for duration of shift (2.5 hours), ability to comfortability lift 40lbs, a valid drivers’ license and vehicle.

How to Apply: Complete a Volunteer Application online. Note: Please upload a resume or CV at the bottom of the application. Once your submission has been received and reviewed, you will be contacted about attending an upcoming volunteer orientation.

This position reports to the volunteer coordinator.

Reception Volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
Location: IRC office (609 East Market St., Suite 104).

Time Commitment: Minimum 3 month commitment, between 2-4 hours/week.

Responsbilities: Front Desk volunteers are vital to IRC operations, greeting each and every person who visits the office, and assisting them with whatever they may need (e.g. directing clients to staff members for meetings, accepting payments, answering basic questions about services). Volunteers are also in charge of answering the main phone line and transferring calls/messages to staff members, as well as receiving and occasionally processing donations (both monetary and in-kind). Shifts vary seasonally.

Skills/Qualifications: Volunteers must have a keen attention to detail, and the ability to handle multiple tasks/situations simultaneously in a complex environment. In addition, volunteers must be culturally sensitive and respectful of diverse backgrounds, self-motivated and comfortable working with little supervision, and able to handle sensitive client information confidentially. Most importantly, front desk volunteers need to be welcoming and eager to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new Charlottesville community.

How to Apply: Complete a Volunteer Application online. Note: Please upload a resume or CV at the bottom of the application. Once your submission has been received and reviewed, you will be contacted about attending an upcoming volunteer orientation.

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