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Refugee Response- August 2022

Refugee Response- August 2022

Download as PDF With all that is happening in the world, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all the perceived needs and choose instead to walk away.  It is almost one year since the fall of Kabul, which led to the frantic escape of many Afghan allies fleeing from the...

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Assistance continues with Aghan Allies’ resettlement

 

Happy Lunar New Year! 

Do your New Year’s resolutions include John Wesley’s rule of life?

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

If your answer is yes, you have lofty, but beautiful, goals.  We hope you will get started by joining us as we continue to welcome Afghan Allies into our communities all around Virginia.

Virginia Annual Conference Refugee Response Team compiled a list of resources for the churches that are interested in supporting the resettlement effort. The following Q&As will offer some practical information on how to start this journey. 

 

 

A great way to be involved and walk alongside our new neighbors is to form a sponsor circle with at least 4 other people.  Once certified, sponsor circles will welcome the newcomers directly into the community and provide tailored support through the initial integration process. As a sponsor circle, you and the other members of the circle will take on tasks like finding initial housing, stocking the pantry, connecting children to school, providing initial income support, and helping adults to find employment. 

If your church would like to become a sponsor, through the connection, or would like to be part of an email chain that shares various information regarding resettlement, please contact [email protected]

In Christ,
VAUMC Refugee Response Team

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Q: I am a pastor of a church that has expressed an interest in working to help Afghan Allies who have recently settled in Virginia. Where can I find ideas to share with them?

A: The site that contains the most comprehensive and latest news is

http://www.welcome.us.

A: If your church is establishing a sponsorship relationship with Church World Service (based in Harrisonburg, Winchester) the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) has a grant for local churches to apply and reimburse up to $1,000 of the expenses used. For more information visit here.

Q: What are the official resettlement agencies in Virginia and where are they working?

A:  Each refugee approved for admission to the United States is sponsored by a nonprofit resettlement agency participating in the R&P Program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of State.  In Virginia, the agencies are: 

Northern Virginia – 

Ethiopian Community Development Council/African Community Center – DC Metro (Arlington, VA) 901 South Highland Street Arlington 22204 703-685-0510 703-685-0529 [email protected] https://acc-dc.org/

 LIRS Lutheran Social Services of The National Capitol Area 8922 Little River Turnpike Fairfax 22031 703-698-5026 703-698-7121 [email protected] www.lssnca.org 

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area 15008 Cloverdale Road Dale City 22193

240-619-9567 571-233-1651 [email protected] www.lssnca.org 

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington 8247 Shoppers Square Manassas 20111 703-841-3893 571-364-8991 [email protected] www.ccda.net 

Richmond – 

Commonwealth Catholic Charities 1601 Rolling Hills Drive Richmond 23229 804-285-5900 804-355-4697 [email protected] www.cccofva.org 

International Rescue Committee (IRC) 1301 N. Hamilton Street, Suite 101 Richmond 23230 804-308-9144 804-308-9160 [email protected] [email protected] https://www.rescue.org/richmond 

Charlottesville – 

International Rescue Committee (IRC) 375 Greenbrier Drive Suite 200, Charlottesville, VA 22901 434-979-7772 434-979-8161 [email protected] [email protected] https://www.rescue.org/charlottesville 

Harrisonburg – 

Church World Service IRP 250 East Elizabeth Street, Suite 102 Harrisonburg 22802 540-433-7942 540-432-0238 [email protected] https://cwsharrisonburg.org/ 

Newport News –

Commonwealth Catholic Charities 12284 Warwick Blvd Newport News 23606 757-247-3600 757-247-1070 [email protected] www.cccofva.org 

Roanoke

Commonwealth Catholic Charities 820 Campbell Avenue, SW Roanoke 24016 540-342-7561 540-344-7513 [email protected] www.cccofva.org

Q: I've heard lots of talk about sponsoring Afghan families. How much of a financial and time commitment would that be? Should my church consider it?

A.  No matter where you are located in the United States, you can welcome a newcomer and provide them with the practical support they need to get settled by serving as a certified sponsor circle. Bring together at least five adults in your neighborhood to form a sponsor circle. Members of the sponsor circle will complete background checks, fundraise, and prepare to submit your group’s application for certification. You will need to check your knowledge of what is needed to serve as a sponsor circle and prepare a Welcome Plan in advance of being matched with a newcomer. Support in completing your Welcome Plan is available! Once certified, sponsor circles will welcome the newcomer directly into the community and provide tailored support through the initial integration process. As a sponsor circle, you and your neighbors will take on tasks like finding initial housing, stocking the pantry, connecting children to school, providing initial income support, and helping adults to find employment.

This act of welcome can bring you and your neighbors closer together and provide an Afghan newcomer the opportunity to begin again. You can find more info at: https://www.sponsorcircles.org/
The official resettlement agencies in Virginia that are looking for sponsorship circles are:
Ethiopian Community Development Council,African Community Center – DC Metro (ECDC) https://acc-dc.org/

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Fairfax

8922 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031, USA

Church World Service, Harrisonburg

250 E Elizabeth St, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA

cwsharrisonburg.org

Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia, Newport News

12284 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, VA 23606, USA

cccofva.org

Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia, Richmond

1601 Rolling Hills Dr, Richmond, VA 23229, USA

cccofva.org

International Rescue Committee, Richmond

1301 N Hamilton St #101, Richmond, VA 23230, USA

rescue.org

International Rescue Committee, Charlottesville

375 Greenbrier Drive, Suite 200, Charlottesville, VA 22901

rescue.org

820 Campbell Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24016, USA

cccofva.org

Q. My church council has decided to allocate our Easter offering for Afghan refugees? Where should we send it?

A: In Virginia, there are several options.

General Board of Global Ministries Global Migration Advance Specials will continue to grant Church World Services in their effort in helping the resettlement of our new neighbors. You may send your offering to the Business Office (P.O. Box 5605, Glen Allen, VA 23058) with Advance #3022144 or give online.

 

IF YOU ARE IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA:

–Ethiopian Community Development Council, DC Metro, Arlington (ECDC) is one of the official resettlement agencies in Virginia.  It provides essential welcome services to newly arriving refugees in Arlington, Virginia, and the DC-metro area.  ECDC is currently resettling more than 6,000 Afghan evacuees in addition to other refugees from around the world. This is an all hands on deck moment and your gift can make a real difference by providing housing assistance, clothing, food, other basic needs and essential services to assist families as they begin their lives again in local communities.  https://www.ecdcus.org/get-involved/donate/

–Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington is one of the official refugee resettlement agencies in Virginia.  Your donation allows them to serve the food, housing, healthcare and other needs of the “least of these” among us as Christ calls us to do.  Donations can be given to the Migration and Refugee Services program here – Giving

–Lutheran Social Services, National Capital Area, the largest resettlement agency in our region, has welcomed nearly 1,000 Afghan Allies since July 31 2021 and is on track to welcome 2,400 more by 2022. This is a record number for LSSNCA with the previous high set at 1,625 over an entire year.  To donate to their efforts in Northern Virginia, donate here – Donate Online | Families & Children in Washington DC, Maryland & Virginia

There are some other organizations that are not official resettlement agencies, but are working to support our new neighbors in Northern Virginia.  They are:
–Afghan American Women’s Association works mainly in the Northern Virginia area.  About AAWA | Afghan-American Women’s Association  A-AWA provides a platform for the Afghan community to preserve culture and values, by offering resources and support to integrate and become productive members of society. 

A-AWA has no formal funding, but through generous contributions by members and supporters, a number of vulnerable families have received financial assistance. The beneficiaries have varied from terminally sick parents, new refugee kids with special needs, sick individuals with no family and domestic violence victims to selected grass root projects back in Afghanistan. This service is offered on first come basis and totally depends on availability of donated funds. They are also offering a Resettlement Services to Refugees and Newcomer Families. This program is focused on newly arrived Afghan families who are desperately in need of emotional support from the community, helpful guidance, and referral services. A strong team of volunteers have been networking to lead and manage this effort through which many families received some relief and assistance when they needed it the most! Above all they got the message that we exist in the area, care for their well-being and welcome them to their new lives. AAWA within its capacity has welcomed newcomer families to the Afghan community in the area and has offered some basic support by finding volunteers to arrange for home visits, and help with family’s needs related to school issues, housing application, translation, cultural interpretations, parenting, budgeting, job search, health and nutrition. A-AWA was approached by mainstream community organizations (more since 2016) to help with a wave of new Afghan refugees. A-AWA is especially working with the women in these families trying to support their smooth adaptation and settlement. Back in September 2014, in partnership with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA), a new support group was formed for newcomer families that ran until mid-2015, AAWA’s Women and Seniors Circle run from 2012 to 2015. Currently, A-AWA actively supported the refugee resettlement programs at the Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington (CCDA), Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), and the LDS Church and Charities. AAWA offers services based upon requests received. These services depend on volunteer’s availability. Donations can be sent to –Donate to Afghan American Women’s Association

–All Dulles Area Muslim Society is collecting funds to help the Afghan evacuees with any immediate needs and for helping to resettle them as Refugees for the long term. A percentage of the refugees will resettle in Virginia. They will need help with housing, education, jobs, cars, furniture, appliances, supplies, and more. Donate to “ADAMS Relief Fund – Afghan Evacuees” Donate | ADAMS Center

–Dar Al Noor Islamic Community Center; Muslim Association of Virginia has served as a center for assistance to Afghan refugees coming to Virginia. They are assisting other larger nonprofits to provide housing assistance, interpreters and teachers for incoming refugees.  You can donate here-

DONATE ONLINE ~ MOHID ©

IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR RICHMOND:
–Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) is another official resettlement agency and is resettling Afghan families in Richmond, Newport News, and Roanoke.  For 40 years, CCC has partnered with communities to help refugees integrate into a new country with dignity. Resettlement includes initial housing placement, case management, school enrollment and follow-up, health and language support, and education and
employment services. Donations can be sent to Help Our Neighbors in Need. Give Today.
International Rescue Committee is working in Richmond and Charlottesville to help Afghan refugees who have been granted sanctuary in the United States become self-sufficient, productive members of their new communities. Your donation will immediately be put to work to provide employment opportunities, counseling, English language instruction and opportunities for refugee children to integrate into and enjoy American culture. Donate to Richmond office here – Give today to the IRC in Richmond.
–Although not an official resettlement agency, ReEstablish Richmond connects its newest neighbors to life-building tools and resources, helping their integration to the community to be a positive and empowering experience. It works in collaboration with resettlement agencies, government services, faith communities, and volunteers. It is committed to creating greater opportunities for refugees and new immigrants in Richmond by enabling access to services that benefit their future. You can donate here – Making connections for our newest neighbors!
IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR NEWPORT NEWS:
–Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) is another official resettlement agency and is resettling Afghan families in Richmond, Newport News, and Roanoke.  For 40 years, CCC has partnered with communities to help refugees integrate into a new country with dignity. Resettlement includes initial housing placement, case management, school enrollment and follow-up, health and language support, and education and
employment services. Donations can be sent to Help Our Neighbors in Need. Give Today.
IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR ROANOKE:

–Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) is another official resettlement agency and is resettling Afghan families in Richmond, Newport News, and Roanoke.  For 40 years, CCC has partnered with communities to help refugees integrate into a new country with dignity. Resettlement includes initial housing placement, case management, school enrollment and follow-up, health and language support, and education and

employment services. Donations can be sent to Help Our Neighbors in Need. Give Today.
IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR CHARLOTTESVILLE:
International Rescue Committee is working in Richmond and Charlottesville to help Afghan refugees who have been granted sanctuary in the United States become self-sufficient, productive members of their new communities. Your donation will immediately be put to work to provide employment opportunities, counseling, English language instruction and opportunities for refugee children to integrate into and enjoy American culture. Donate to the Charlottesville office here – Give today to the IRC in Charlottesville.
IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR HARRISONBURG:
–Church World Services, Harrisonburg has a primary goal to help the refugee form long lasting relationships in the community which become the basis of self-sufficiency.  In order to reach this goal a family must be able to maintain their own basic needs in a sustainable lifestyle. Its program provides a bridge from their former life in their home country to a new set of cultural, linguistic, and practical skills that will enable them to thrive in Harrisonburg. Church World Services is another of the official resettlement agencies.  Donations can be made here – Donate | CWS Harrisonburg.
Q: What is the most dire need for the Afghans who are resettling?

A:  The most dire need by far is housing, permanent and transitional.  There’s an urgent, unprecedented need for emergency stays for refugees arriving from Afghanistan. And if you have rental property or know of someone who does, your help is very much needed!

One way to help is to join Airbnb.org in supporting Afghan refugees by opening rooms in your home for whatever length of time.  For more information, visit https://www.airbnb.org/refugees.

Every year, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) finds houses and apartments for refugees to live once they’re admitted to the United States. It’s a cumbersome process that often happens months before a refugee arrives. The recent evacuation of Afghans from Afghanistan and the housing boom has made the process even more complicated as it tries to find housing for every arriving family, sometimes dozens every week. Typically, LSSNCA finds available apartment homes through preferred landlords that have worked with its staff for years, know the process, and house a robust community of Afghan nationals.

However,  LSSNCA is now depending on leads from the community to ensure that each family is provided a home within a few days of arrival. Its staff works diligently with every refugee to garner quick employment and in turn, ensure that rent is successfully paid on time. If you have a property and would like to learn more about renting to a refugee, please fill out the form below and a member of the LSSNCA staff will contact you soon.

Rent to a Refugee

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington Migrant & Refugee Services provides financial support towards rent but without credit or work history, it can be difficult to secure leasing for newly arriving families. The families Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington supports benefit greatly from being near their family and friends in the area and so it is urgently looking for housing in:

  • Alexandria, VA
  • Fredericksburg, VA
  • Sterling, VA
  • Woodbridge, VA

If you have contacts in other areas of Northern Virginia, please send them along – email: [email protected]

The Ethiopian Community Development Council is also looking for leads on housing in Northern Virginia.  If you know of any, please contact African Community Center DC Metro (Arlington, VA) 901 South Highland Street Arlington 22204 703-685-0510 703-685-0529 [email protected] https://acc-dc.org/.

If you or someone you know owns rental properties in Newport News, Richmond, or Roanoke, please contact Commonwealth Catholic Charities.  In Newport News, call 757.247.3600, in Richmond call 804.285.5900, and in Roanoke call 540.342.7561

The IRC is looking for rental property available, near public transportation and especially larger family units of three or more bedrooms in or around Charlottesville.  If you have this kind of housing, please contact [email protected] or [email protected]. Additionally, open your guest home or short term rental as a place of refuge for emergency temporary housing with IRC’s partner Airbnb.org’s Open Homes Program.

Q: Does the Virginia Conference have a point of contact for each of the resettlement agencies?

A: Yes, we have points of contact, who have established relationships with the agencies. The point of contact can also help to connect your church with other churches who might have express interest in this area. Please contact [email protected] for more information

Q: Our church is discerning on how we can encourage (influence) the congregation in being part of this effort. Are there any resources we can use?

 A: Our partners at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services offer a wonderful first step for congregations to use to discern their call to this ministry.  We hope that, early in this new year, you will undertake this Emmaus journey to help you respond to the biblical call to welcome the stranger.  The Refugee Response Team of the Serving Ministries of the Virginia Conference is here to walk alongside you.   

EMMAUS Congregational Discernment Guide.pdf – LIRSConnect

Q: I've heard lots of talk about sponsoring Afghan families. How much of a financial and time commitment would that be? Should my church consider it?
  1. No matter where you are located in the United States, you can welcome a newcomer and provide them with the practical support they need to get settled by serving as a certified sponsor circle. Bring together at least five adults in your neighborhood to form a sponsor circle. Members of the sponsor circle will complete background checks, fundraise, and prepare to submit your group’s application for certification. You will need to check your knowledge of what is needed to serve as a sponsor circle and prepare a Welcome Plan in advance of being matched with a newcomer. Support in completing your Welcome Plan is available! Once certified, sponsor circles will welcome the newcomer directly into the community and provide tailored support through the initial integration process. As a sponsor circle, you and your neighbors will take on tasks like finding initial housing, stocking the pantry, connecting children to school, providing initial income support, and helping adults to find employment. 

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Fairfax

8922 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA 22031, USA

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, Woodbridge / Dale City

15008 Cloverdale Rd, Woodbridge, VA 22193, USA 

250 E Elizabeth St, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA

Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia, Newport News

12284 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, VA 23606, USA

cccofva.org

Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia, Richmond

1601 Rolling Hills Dr, Richmond, VA 23229, USA

cccofva.org

1301 N Hamilton St #101, Richmond, VA 23230, USA

820 Campbell Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24016, USA

cccofva.org

Q: I would love to work with Afghan families, but need to do it virtually. Is there a way that I can do that?

Yes, Lutheran Social Services for the National Capital Area has a program for Refugee Youth/Family Tutors (Virtual). Family tutoring is a brand new pilot project for LSSNCA, developed in response to emerging needs during COVID-19. Depending on learning goals and needs, clients can benefit from virtual tutoring that supports multiple members of their family. Volunteers can be matched with children, youth, or adult clients, and are welcome to tutor alongside other family members. Tutoring should include weekly 1-hour sessions with a 2-month commitment (at minimum) and can be flexible based on goals, strengths, and mutual tutoring preferences. Tutoring topics can range from K-12 subjects, homework help and study skills to ESL and conversation practice. This opportunity requires volunteers to enjoy working with kids and with youth education. If a youth client is under 15, a parent must be present in the home. If a tutor is under 18, a parent must volunteer or be present. (1-2 hours per week with a 2-month minimum commitment.) You can apply here: MyImpactPage – Application Form – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. For more information, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator, Alyssa Clifford: [email protected]

Another virtual opportunity is to be a Refugee Youth Mentor for Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. Volunteers are paired with refugee youth (ages 15-24) to assist with career development and empowerment. Duties vary based on the goals and interests of the youth, but tend to focus on exploring career and educational opportunities, identifying career pathways, assisting with the job search and application process (resumé, cover letter, application, interview), and setting short and long term goals. The goal of the mentorship is to allow the youth to have a mentor that can help navigate US systems, promote civic engagement and leadership opportunities, and provide guidance with various questions and ideas as they begin thinking about future careers or education. Mentors play an integral role in showing mentees the vast array of opportunities that may be available to them in the US, as well as supporting and empowering them to explore these opportunities. Mentoring is virtual now due to COVID and volunteers need to have regular contact with the youth client, ideally once a week or at least once every two weeks. Volunteers are part of the LSSNCA Youth Mentoring Community where there are opportunities for monthly training and development meetings, as well as outside presentations in relevant areas of interest to youth clients. The duration of the mentoring relationship is typically one year. The mentor is also expected to participate in regular calls and meetings with the mentor program coordinator (1-2 hours per month), and these meetings (typically by phone or other virtual platforms), are part of the volunteer commitment. There are regular opportunities to network and establish friendships with fellow youth mentors as well as refugee youth clients. You can apply here: MyImpactPage – Application Form – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. For more information, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator, Alyssa Clifford: [email protected].

Another volunteer task that can be done from home is to be part of the Thank You Crew for the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA). LSSNCA is powered by the cash and in-kind donations and volunteer time given by our loyal supporters. We are looking for volunteers to help us recognize this generous support by providing a personal touch to our messages of gratitude. Help us recognize donors and volunteers with notes, cards, and thank you calls. We have so much to be thankful for but not a lot of staff to express how grateful we are or how much we appreciate our donors and volunteers. You can apply here: MyImpactPage – Application Form – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. For more information, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator, Alyssa Clifford: [email protected]

There are also virtual opportunities in Richmond and Roanoke with Commonwealth Catholic Charities as a Cultural Orientation Class Volunteer

CCC provides cultural orientation to all newly arrived families, to help them quick become self-sufficient and learn basics of life in the U.S. Topics include, but are not limited to, how to find a job, US laws, public education for children, banking/money management, and housing rights and responsibilities. Volunteers will work with our Education Specialist and assist with either virtual or in-person cultural orientation classes. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Also, IRC Richmond has this virtual opportunity –
Youth Tutor  https://www.rescue.org/volunteer/youth-tutor-0

Start date: Ongoing
CONNECTION TO MISSION: Provide support with online assignments (Math, English, Science, History, etc.) with newly arrived refugee youth

LOCATION: Online or in client’s home; other sites possible.

TIME COMMITMENT: 5-10 hours per month

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

Provide subject-specific guidance to help students complete their homework and/or study for upcoming quizzes and tests

Use active listening strategies to allow student to determine content and pace of tutoring

Recognize primary role to support students become more confident, successful, and self directed learners

Create a professional and welcoming environment for students’ diverse cultures, language skills, and experiences

Understand that each client’s story, personality, skills, background, and needs are unique, therefore each tutor experience will be unique

RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS:

All communication and conduct with students must maintain a professional and academic focus and should only take place in the context of the tutoring relationship

IRC Tutors should end the tutoring session immediately if either party feels uncomfortable or unsafe

Tutors must notify the IRC Supervisor of any concerns or incidents immediately

Phone calls and/or texts should only occur with caregivers for the purpose of scheduling meetings and/or providing academic support. IRC tutors must utilize google voice when contacting parents

Tutors cannot be alone with any children without either the child’s parent present or another staff member present. This includes in-office visits, field activities, and home visits

Tutors are required to immediately report suspicion or allegations of child abuse or exploitation

Report your Volunteer hours by the end of each month

REQUIREMENTS / QUALIFICATIONS:

Willingness to navigate awkward interactions, especially at the beginning

Interest in working with youth newcomers to the U.S. from a variety of cultures and backgrounds

Must be able to tutor for a minimum of one semester

Must be flexible. Last-minute changes are expected when working with clients.

BENEFITS:

A gratifying experience that will likely result in an enriching friendship

Receive a foundational knowledge of the U.S. resettlement program and the programs and services provided to refugees to help promote integration and self-sufficiency

Support of the IRC staff throughout your volunteer experience

Q. Are gift cards a good way to help Afghan Allies that are new in my area?

A: YES! They are one of the best ways to help.

Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area is asking for gift cards (Visa, Target, Walmart, Giant, Uber, Safeway, and Lyft). Updated drop-off locations and times can be found here – https://lssnca.org/take_action/gift-boxes.html

Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Arlington requests gift cards to stores such as Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, IKEA, and Visa (which can be used at multiple stores) for purchasing items for newly arrived refugee families. Grocery store gift cards to Giant, Safeway, Food Lion, Aldi, or Shoppers Food Warehouse. Metro cards to help clients get to interviews and work (amounts of $40 or less preferable). For drop-off contact Catholic Charities, Arlington Diocese at 571-364-8010 or [email protected]

IRC Richmond and IRC Charlottesville encourage people to donate gift cards (Kroger, Food Lion, Walmart, Amazon). Gift cards give families who have lost everything the agency to purchase the things that would make them feel most at home in our community; the clothes they like to wear, their favorite foods, etc. This small gesture goes a long way to helping restore people’s dignity and sense of self-worth. We recommend these stores because they are accessible to our families by bus or online. Gift cards can be mailed or dropped off, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm:
Charlottesville office: Charlottesville 375 Greenbrier Drive, Suite 200, Charlottesville, VA 22901, Richmond office:1301 N. Hamilton St. Suite 101 Richmond, VA 23230

In Harrisonburg, CWS accepts Target and Walmart gift cards to share with refugee neighbors in need to help offset costs as they rebuild their lives here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Q: I understand that most newly arrived Afghans spend the first few weeks or more without a vehicle. Can I help with transportation?

A: Yes. There are many needs for volunteer drivers, but also the donation of vehicles or Uber or Lyft credits.

Volunteers for the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area drive refugee clients to appointments (e.g., cultural orientations, health appointments, English classes), especially in the first few months of resettlement. Volunteers should be friendly, supportive, and flexible in picking up/dropping off and driving clients. This is an on-call position sometimes with a few days’ notice. Volunteers are added to volunteer driver email list and notified of driving needs once or twice per month. (Varies based on volunteer’s availability.) You can apply here: MyImpactPage – Application Form – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. For more information, please contact Community Engagement Coordinator, Alyssa Clifford: [email protected]

You can also work with the ECDC in Northern Virginia. ECDC and its affiliate organizations are seeking volunteers to help with airport pick-ups and transportation assistance.

The IRC in Richmond is also looking for Volunteer Drivers – https://www.rescue.org/volunteer/volunteer-driver

Start date: Ongoing
Location: In and around greater Richmond.

Time Commitment: As needed, when families request help with transportation. However, volunteers should normally expect to spend 2-3 hours on a given day working with a family.

Responsibilities: Newly arrived refugees have many appointments to get to, both at the IRC office and elsewhere around Richmond. Most do not have cars, and transportation can often be difficult and time-consuming. Help refugees by transporting them to some of these appointments and then taking them back home afterwards.

Skills/Qualifications: Volunteers must have access to a car and be willing to transport IRC clients with it. Volunteers should also 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, volunteers should be welcoming and eager to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new Richmond 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.

Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond, Newport News, and Roanoke are also looking for Transportation Volunteers.

One of CCC’s main responsibilities is connecting refugees to community resources, which requires driving them to and from appointments, classes and interviews. Help refugees by transporting them to appointments and home afterwards. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Church World Services in Harrisonburg is looking for volunteers to provide transportation. If you’re interested in volunteering, apply online: Apply to Volunteer Now!

Q: My friends love to collect items to donate to those in need. Is there something I can do to help?

A: Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area can use Supply Coordinators. These volunteers purchase or collect supplies needed for refugee families and children. Supply coordinators are encouraged to ask friends or colleagues and use their network to gather donations to be given to refugee families. Volunteers are added to supply coordinator email list and notified of donation needs a few times per month, based on ongoing needs of refugee families. (Varies based on volunteer’s availability.)

Q: I'm strong and in good health. Is there particular physical work that I can help do?

A: Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area uses volunteers–muscle movers– to assist with moving large, heavy donated items from the homes of donors to the LSSNCA storage facility in Northern Virginia or directly to clients’ homes. Volunteers must be able to lift and carry large items (e.g., sofas, mattresses, dressers) and drive an LSSNCA van. Furniture pick-ups take place on weekends, or Mondays during the daytime. Volunteers are added to muscle mover email list and notified of furniture pick-up needs per week. (Varies based on volunteer’s availability.)

Q. My church youth group wants to do something to help our new Afghan neighbors. What is a good way for them to contribute?
A. Even if there is no Afghan family resettling in your area, there are still ways the youth can be involved. One way would be to organize a fundraising effort for resettlement agencies in your area. Another might be to check and see if they would like to receive welcoming letters and drawings from your church’s youth and children to forward to the children being resettled in your area.
Q: I have quite a few extra airline miles that I'm not using due to the fact that I'm not traveling during Covid. Can they be used by Afghan Allies?

A.  Yes.  Welcome.US and Miles4Migrants https://miles4migrants.org are kicking off the first-of-its-kind challenge to secure 1,000,000,000 airline miles for Afghan evacuees reaching their new homes. Donate your extra miles to help a family land on its feet.  For more information, check https://welcome.us/miles.

Q: I may have some jobs at my company for a refugee? How do I advertise them?
CHARLOTTESVILLE AREA

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:
HOUSING 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.

Q: I'm from the Charlottesville area. Do any organizations near me accept in-kind donations?

A: Yes, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) does.
The IRC in Charlottesville relies on the generosity of our community to provide families with needed items as well as comforts. Donated items are placed in families’ new apartments or distributed to families through our network of volunteers. In recent weeks, volunteers have been working to bring families staying in hotels things to make their stays more comfortable while they wait for long-term housing.

Effective January 10 – we will be accepting a limited number of items based on the needs of the families we serve. Items can be brought to the office at 375 Greenbrier Drive, Suite 200, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm.  Please contact us at [email protected] if you have questions.  Thank you so much for your support. 

Current needs can be found at https://www.rescue.org/announcement/items-needed-refugees-charlottesville 

Items from our Amazon Wishlist. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/34VJJF132IFW8?ref_=wl_share

If you would like to donate your car, please go to https://www.rescue.org/announcement/vehicle-donation-program?edme=true

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: 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, 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. 

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

Q: I live in Richmond and have a friend that lives in Charlottesville. We really want to help, but are unable to get around very well due to health concerns. Is there an online shopping list from which we can purchase items that our new neighbors need?
A: Yes.  You can shop IRC’s Richmond’s Target Wishlist https://www.target.com/gift-registry/gift/ircinrva for home set-up items, and if you’re a Target Circle member in Virginia, vote for the IRC to receive funds from Target.  Or you can shop Charlottesville’s Amazon Wishlist https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/34VJJF132IFW8?ref_=wl_share for home set-up items.
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 workdays 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 [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.

HARRISONBURG AREA

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

There are many opportunities with Church World Services. https://cwsharrisonburg.org/get-involved/. It has a small staff and can’t accomplish its work without the help of generous donors and volunteers. Volunteers may help in English classes, work with families in their homes, provide transportation, teach important skills, or help us in the office. No matter what role a volunteer fills, they play an important part in welcoming newcomers to our community.
If you’re interested in volunteering, apply online: Apply to Volunteer Now!

If you have questions about our volunteer program, contact [email protected]
Some of our current needs include:

High School Youth Mentor: (Flexible timing)
Who were the people in your youth who supported and encouraged you? High School is a confusing time for all youth as they try to figure out who they are, what they care about, what options exist and how to access opportunities. Imagine trying to negotiate these questions as a refugee in a new country! The more compassionate adults walking with the youth through this time of transition, the more positive the outcomes. Will you help?

CWS Harrisonburg is looking for adult mentors to support and encourage our high school refugee youth in achieving their academic, social, and career goals. Mentors do not need to be experts or have any previous mentoring experience. Mentors are matched with a high school refugee youth for one year based on social or career interests. The commitment is to meet at least once a month, but more frequent meetings, field trips, or shared home visits are all encouraged. Contact Rebecca Sprague at [email protected] for more information about this opportunity.

Cultural Orientation Class Volunteer:
Each fall, spring, and summer we need volunteers to assist the Cultural Orientation teacher with the class. This is the easiest way to get involved at our office and it’s fun! The Cultural Orientation Class is mix of ESL and cultural orientation topics which are required for all of our new arrivals. We talk about topics like home and health, education, finances, and jobs. It’s very hands-on and the class often goes on “field trips” around town. Volunteers will pick at least one day a week to be involved and are expected to commit to either one semester at a time or 3 months at a time. (extended volunteer opportunities with the Cultural Orientation class are available).

Teaching Public Transportation:
In order for our clients to attend the Cultural Orientation class and to gain independence and self-sufficiency we teach them how to use the public transportation system. Volunteers meet clients at their home, walk with them to the bus stop and actually ride correct bus with them to class. When class is over volunteers then ride the bus back home with the clients. Volunteers will pick one day a week to be involved and are expected to commit to either one semester at a time or 3 months at a time. Daily assignments can be split between volunteers. (one person teach the bus to class and another volunteer teach the client how to get home).

Occasional Events:
Sometimes the Refugee Resettlement office hosts events and needs volunteers for to make these events happen. In one case it might be helping to set up and tear down, or it could be providing on-site child care for parent meetings. Interested volunteers will be placed on an email list and will receive notice when events are happening.

In-home tutors
In-home tutors should have prior experience or training teaching or tutoring. These volunteers tutor adults who cannot make it to English class, or students who would like extra help with English and with school homework. Tutors work in the home and are typically assigned in pairs, so sign up with a friend! These volunteers visit their student 2 times a week for a minimum of 3 months.

All volunteers must be over 18 and are required to be dependable, responsible, punctual, comfortable in cross-cultural situations where there is a language barrier. They must also communicate well with the Church World Service Refugee Resettlement Program staff, and have the ability to work with a variety of cultures and religious backgrounds.

Q: I'm from the Harrisonburg area. Do any organizations near me accept in-kind donations?

A. You should contact Church World Services in Harrisonburg. Many refugees arrive to the United States with little or no belongings, and your generous donation of household items helps to offset some of the home costs for a new refugee neighbor. This is a great way to help a new refugee neighbor who is making a home and rebuilding their life in the Shenandoah Valley. You can find a list of our most needed items here: https://cwsharrisonburg.org/get-involved/in-kind-donations/

CWS is currently accepting donations of hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and winter coats at its office (250 E Elizabeth St, Suite 102) and all items on the following list during collection days at our donation hub. Because we do not have storage capacity at our office, we are routing all furniture and household item donations to our partners at Village to Village, who are heading up Welcome Teams to furnish apartments for new arrivals. Village to Village holds a collection day on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 2136 Rawley Pike, Rockingham from 4:30 pm to 6 pm. Please email Heidi Dove at [email protected] with any questions, or with pictures of any furniture you will be dropping off.

Here is the list of items CWS can accept:

Hygiene Items (New Only) accepted at CWS office and/or Village to Village donation hub
Soap
Shampoo
Deodorant (men’s and women’s)
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Razors and Shaving Cream
Brush/Comb
Sanitary Pads
Band-aids/First Aid
Thermometer
Baby Wipes and Diapers

Cleaning Items (New Only) accepted at CWS office and/or Village to Village donation hub
Dish Soap
Sponges/Scrubbers
Dish Rack
Trash Bags
Kitchen Trashcan
Bucket
Floor Cleaner
Mop
Broom
Vacuum
Toilet Paper
Toilet Brush
Shower Curtain and Rings
Laundry Detergent
All Purpose Cleaning Spray

Kitchen Items Village to Village donation hub only
Glasses
Dinner plates
Cereal bowls
Serving bowls
Can opener
Pots and Pans
Knives
Cutting Board
Baking Dish
Tea Kettle
Cooking Utensils (serving spoons, spatulas, etc.)

Small Appliances Village to Village donation hub only
Microwave (new only)
Coffee pot (new only)
Blender
Rice cooker

Furniture Village to Village donation hub only
Dresser
Sofa
Upholstered living room chairs
Kitchen table
Kitchen chairs
Coffee table
End table
Lamps
Pictures/home decor
Bookshelves

Miscellaneous Village to Village donation hub only
Lawn mower (new only)
Umbrella
Crib
Alarm clock
Stroller
Sheets and blankets/linens
Paper, pens, pencils
Paper towels
High chair
Kids toys
Car seat (new only)
Bath towels/washcloth
Hot pads

We also accept Target and Walmart gift cards to share with refugee neighbors in need to help offset costs as they rebuild their lives here in the Shenandoah Valley.

FOR QUESTIONS OR SCHEDULING A DROP OFF, CONTACT:

Emily Bender

[email protected]

540.514.9481

Q: I live in the Harrisonburg area. Is there any way I can combine my desire to help refugees with my passion for cycling?

A:  Yes! Check out the Bikes for Refugees initiative by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition! http://svbcoalition.org/bicycles-for-refugees 

NEWPORT NEWS AREA

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

Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Newport News has numerous ways to help. https://www.cccofva.org/items-3/ If interested, you can apply here – https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication.

Some of the options are:
Mentor/Tutor

Do you have a heart for youth? Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity on weeknights or weekends? Help an elementary, middle, or high school student by assisting with school subjects. Off site, evenings and weekends

ESL Assistant

Our ESL department is in immediate need of volunteers to assist clients in learning the English language, life and job skills, computer skills, and/or other subjects as a teacher, helper, or tutor.

Classes meet Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Class materials are provided.

Transportation Assistant

One of CCC’s main responsibilities is connecting refugees to community resources, which requires driving them to and from appointments, classes and interviews. Enjoy personal time with clients while driving and gain knowledge of important services in which refugees are involved by volunteering to drive these vital routes.

Transportation Volunteer

One of CCC’s main responsibilities is connecting refugees to community resources, which requires driving them to and from appointments, classes and interviews. This also requires training refugees to take the public bus and how to use taxi services like UBER/LYFT.

Refugee Resettlement

Help secure, prepare, and furnish an apartment for a newly arrived family. Assistance needed with shopping for household goods, hygiene items and food; delivering donations, moving furniture; creating a welcoming environment for a new family.

Catholic Charities, Newport News https://www.cccofva.org/items-3/

Help secure, prepare, and furnish an apartment for a newly arrived family. Assistance needed with moving furniture, shopping for household goods, hygiene items and food; delivering donations; creating a welcoming environment for a new family.

Employment Assistant

Help newly arrived refugees with pre-employment training, creating a CV/resume, setting up email and other accounts, apply for online jobs, teaching families how to use online platforms like Zoom, etc.

Q: I'm from the Newport News area. Do any organizations in my area accept in-kind donations?

A: Commonwealth Catholic Charities has currently paused all other in-kind donations besides its wish list to manage the high level of demand and desire to help our allies. Please use the wish list below to purchase essential items needed to welcome families in Newport News. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2VJXCKLZJ03SY?ref_=wl_fv_le

NORTHERN VIRGINIA AREA

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

A:  There are many opportunities in your area.

Lutheran Social Services for the National Capital Area has a lot of options which can be found at Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area : Take Action : Volunteer : Volunteer Opportunities

Possibilities include:

Refugee Family Mentor for the Lutheran Social Services for the National Capital Area. Volunteers will spend time with refugee families and help them get acclimated to their new homes. Duties vary, but tend to focus on English language learning and searching for jobs. This position requires a 6-month commitment. While it’s not required that volunteers provide their own vehicle for transportation, the location of our clients’ homes make public transportation impractical.  (Time commitment: 10 hours per month for 6 months, meeting in the home of the client. 2 volunteers will be placed with each family.)

Employment Assistant: Volunteer assists job developers in our resettlement offices. Employment assistants will help clients explore career options according to their experience and education and will help the job developers on LSS’s staff with job searches. Volunteers must pass a background check, and be knowledgeable in employment search and resume building. Volunteers must also be willing to report the amount of hours worked to LSSNCA. Volunteers should have the ability to drive clients. This position may include taking clients to job fairs, to apply for jobs, and to interviews. (Time commitment: 4-8 hours per week between the hours of 9am – 5pm.)

Refugee Youth/Family Tutor (Virtual): Family tutoring is a brand new pilot project for LSSNCA, developed in response to emerging needs during COVID-19. Depending on learning goals and needs, clients can benefit from virtual tutoring that supports multiple members of their family. Volunteers can be matched with children, youth, or adult clients, and are welcome to tutor alongside other family members. Tutoring should include weekly 1-hour sessions with a 2-month commitment (at minimum) and can be flexible based on goals, strengths, and mutual tutoring preferences. Tutoring topics can range from K-12 subjects, homework help and study skills to ESL and conversation practice. This opportunity requires volunteers to enjoy working with kids and with youth education. If a youth client is under 15, a parent must be present in the home. If a tutor is under 18, a parent must volunteer or be present. (1-2 hours per week with a 2-month minimum commitment.)

–Refugee Youth Mentor: Volunteers are paired with refugee youth (ages  15-24) to assist with career development and empowerment. Duties vary based on the goals and interests of the youth, but tend to focus on exploring career and educational opportunities, identifying career pathways, assisting with the job search and application process (resumé, cover letter, application, interview), and setting short and long term goals. The goal of the mentorship is to allow the youth to have a mentor that can help navigate US systems, promote civic engagement and leadership opportunities, and provide guidance with various questions and ideas as they begin thinking about future careers or education. Mentors play an integral role in showing mentees the vast array of opportunities that may be available to them in the US, as well as supporting and empowering them to explore these opportunities. Mentoring is virtual now due to COVID and volunteers need to have regular contact with the youth client, ideally once a week or at least once every two weeks.  Volunteers are part of the LSSNCA Youth Mentoring Community where there are opportunities for monthly training and development meetings, as well as outside presentations in relevant areas of interest to youth clients. The duration of the mentoring relationship is typically one year.  The mentor is also expected to participate in regular calls and meetings with the mentor program coordinator (1-2 hours per month), and these meetings (typically by phone or other virtual platforms), are part of the volunteer commitment. There are regular opportunities to network and establish friendships with fellow youth mentors as well as refugee youth clients.

Volunteer Driver: Volunteers drive refugee clients to appointments (e.g., cultural orientations, health appointments, English classes), especially in the first few months of resettlement. Volunteers should be friendly, supportive, and flexible in picking up/dropping off and driving clients. This is an on-call position sometimes with a few days’ notice. Volunteers are added to the volunteer driver email list and notified of driving needs once or twice per month. (Varies based on volunteer’s availability.)

 

You can also work with the ECDC to help our Afghan Allies and other refugees by becoming a volunteer. ECDC and its affiliate organizations are seeking volunteers to help with airport pick-ups, apartment set-ups, employment assistance, mentorship (English language and cultural adjustment), and transportation assistance. To volunteer at ECDC’s local African Community Center office in Arlington please fill in this form- https://www.ecdcus.org/volunteer/

The Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington has several volunteer opportunities. Our Afghan brothers and sisters are in need of the free or deeply discounted Mental Health counseling, Dental Services, General Medical evaluations, services, and School Health Screenings.  Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington is eager to put your skills to use.  Please email: [email protected] for more information.

Q: I'm from the Northern Virginia area. Do any organizations near me accept in-kind donations?

A: Yes. Lutheran Social Services currently does not have the capacity to accept any used items. It also cannot currently accept clothing, furniture, food, toys, or books.  They can accept Gift cards (Visa, Target, Walmart, Giant, Uber, Safeway, and Lyft), Laptops – NEW only, and Smartphones – NEW or refurbished only, and SIM cards (Mint Mobile preferred).  You can also shop on their Amazon Wish List to help them get their most needed items and have them shipped directly to them!  https://smile.amazon.com/hz/charitylist/ls/WOJPDI5G68MO/ref=smi_ext_lnk_lcl_cl

ECDC is in need of several in-kind items. Current needs include new bedding/pillows, towels/washcloths, wastebaskets, basic kitchen supplies (utensils, pots, pans, etc.), dish soap, laundry detergent, sponges, rags, paper towels, mops/brooms, toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.), shoes/winter clothes, school supplies, and basic furniture for small apartments. Contact [email protected] for donation drop-off.

ECDC also has an Amazon wishlist that can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2YVD4PM75QG35/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex

Catholic Charities, Arlington Diocese relies on the support of its donors to help meet the urgent needs of its clients. See a current list of our most needed items. Please only donate items specifically listed here; this will help our donations staff and volunteers serve our clients as respectfully and equitably as possible. This list encompasses the items that we need the most. Our list of needs is constantly changing so please check back in with our staff if you have questions about a donation you would like to make or how and when you can make your donation. You can contact us at 571-364-8010 or
[email protected].

Current Top Needs:
New bath towels and wash clothes; Please NO hand towels
Trash cans – tall indoor trash cans and small wastebaskets
Laundry detergent, High Efficiency (HE) only, and please NO bulk sizes
New dish sets (dinner plate, bowl, cup); we are NOT accepting used dish sets at this time
New sets of silverware; we are NOT accepting used silverware at this time
• Diapers (especially size 4-6)

Gift cards:
Gift cards to stores such as Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, IKEA, and Visa (which can be
used at multiple stores) for purchasing items for newly arrived refugee families
Grocery store gift cards to Giant, Safeway, Food Lion, Aldi, or Shoppers Food Warehouse
Metro cards to help clients get to interviews and work (amounts of $40 or less
preferable)
Tracfones with minutes cards – for client contact and needed in case of a client emergency
• New and used computers for families with school-aged children at home

Please also shop the Catholic Charities, Arlington Diocese Amazon Wishlist (If items are backlogged or unavailable, please consider a financial donation or gift cards.) http://a.co/cfQyvx0

Q: I am a doctor and my spouse is a lawyer. We live in Northern Virginia. Are our skills needed?

A. The Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington has several opportunities for you. Our Afghan brothers and sisters are in need of the free or deeply discounted Mental Health counseling, Dental Services, General Medical evaluations, services, and School Health Screenings. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington is eager to put your skills to use. Please email: [email protected] for more information.

Q: My church in Northern Virginia has a number of young professionals who have a heart for refugees, but not a lot of money. What might they do to get involved?

A: One answer might be a program like the one Catholic Charities has in Northern Virginia (file:///C:/Users/Study/AppData/Local/Temp/MYVA%20Mentor%20Flyer%202.pdf). Mentors are needed to mentor refugees age 15-25 on job readiness, vocational assistance, English Language practice, college preparation assistance, peer mentoring, and professional mentoring. These efforts will create meaningful relationships with our new neighbors and help them navigate their new homes. Mentoring these new neighbors also provides great opportunities for community service and social engagement!

Another opportunity (virtual) is to be a Refugee Youth Mentor with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. Volunteers are paired with refugee youth (ages 15-24) to assist with career development and empowerment. Duties vary based on the goals and interests of the youth, but tend to focus on exploring career and educational opportunities, identifying career pathways, assisting with the job search and application process (resumé, cover letter, application, interview), and setting short and long term goals. The goal of the mentorship is to allow the youth to have a mentor that can help navigate US systems, promote civic engagement and leadership opportunities, and provide guidance with various questions and ideas as they begin thinking about future careers or education. Mentors play an integral role in showing mentees the vast array of opportunities that may be available to them in the US, as well as supporting and empowering them to explore these opportunities. Mentoring is virtual now due to COVID and volunteers need to have regular contact with the youth client, ideally once a week or at least once every two weeks. Volunteers are part of the LSSNCA Youth MentoringCheck with the resettlement agencies working in your area to see if they have such programs.

RICHMOND AREA

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

A. There are three organizations in Richmond that are working with newcomers from Afghanistan who could use your help. They are
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
https://www.rescue.org/volunteer-opportunities/richmond-va
Commonwealth Catholic Charities https://www.cccofva.org/richmondvolunteerpositions/
ReEstablish Richmond
https://www.reestablishrichmond.org/volunteer-opportunities

For the IRC (International Rescue Committee), you must be 18 years or older to volunteer and complete a background check. Most positions require at least a 6 month volunteer commitment with up to 5 hours per week. If this is not feasible for you, please email us about our on-call opportunities.
Please email [email protected] with any questions about these volunteer options.

The IRC has the following volunteer opportunities in the Richmond area:

–Health Mentor
Health Mentors are cultural ambassadors and educators. You will help clients navigate the U.S. healthcare system, understand mail and bills, learn how to complete important forms, make follow-up appointments, order medical transport to appointments and guide them through the steps to catch the van when it arrives. The goal is to walk with them, not continually do for them. Each client’s story, personality, skills, background, and needs are unique, therefore each volunteer experience will be unique.

–Family Mentor https://www.rescue.org/volunteer/family-mentor-4

Family Mentors help clients go through mail, understand and complete important forms, navigate the U.S. shopping experience, learn their way around RVA, experience new systems and processes for the first time. The goal is to walk with them, not do for them. Volunteer family mentors must be willing to navigate awkward interactions, especially at the beginning and should have no hesitation to learn the ins and outs of benefit systems like Social Services, Medicaid, childcare. Every interaction should contribute to eventual self-sufficiency. Each client’s story, personality, skills, background, and needs are unique, therefore each volunteer experience will be unique. This volunteer effort can be conducted remotely, or in-person at the client’s home, a local cafe, library, or outdoors. Family mentors are expected to commit to approximately one hour per week for a minimum of six months.

–Youth Mentor https://www.rescue.org/volunteer/youth-mentor-2

Youth Mentors teach skills that encourage self-sufficiency in all areas for young adults aged 15-24. These meetings can occur online or in the youth’s home or other possible sites. Youth Mentors are expected to commit to at least two meetings a month, although more are preferred, for 6-12 months.
TIME COMMITMENT: At least 2 times a month, more preferred, for 6-12 months. It depends on mentor and mentee schedule and capacity

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

Strengthen mentee’s interpersonal and leadership skills and self-esteem

Help youth become engaged members of their communities through participation in civic and community service activities

Give academic support, including college application and achievement support

Enhance their career development skills and financial literacy skills

Understanding that each client’s story, personality, skills, background, and needs are unique, therefore each volunteer experience will be unique

RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS:

Providing information: Mentors will work to provide students with up-to-date resources for social gatherings, academic support, career development, college readiness, and field trips

Meetings: Mentors cannot be alone with any children without either the child’s parent present or another staff member present. This includes in-office visits, field activities, and home visits

Keeping appointments: Mentors must keep appointments and respect the time of their student. Mentors are required to meet with their students in person two times a month in order to set goals, track student progress, and troubleshoot any issues. If mentors are not able to keep an appointment, they must notify their student at least 24 hours in advance.

Reporting – Mentors are required to immediately report suspicion or allegations of child abuse or exploitation

Transportation – Mentors cannot drive students in their personal vehicles unless youth is over 18 years old

Review the IRC Boundaries Policy again before your first visit and clearly define for yourself where yours are, including how & when you want to be contacted by the client

Report your Volunteer hours by the end of each month.

REQUIREMENTS / QUALIFICATIONS:

Willingness to navigate awkward interactions, especially at the beginning.

Interest in working with youth newcomers to the U.S. from a variety of cultures and backgrounds

Must be able to mentor for a minimum of 6 months

Providing information: Mentors will work to provide students with up-to-date resources for social gatherings, academic support, career development, college readiness, and field trips.

Meetings: Mentors cannot be alone with any children without either the child’s parent present or another staff member present. This includes in-office visits, field activities, and home visits.

Keeping appointments: Mentors must keep appointments and respect the time of their student. Mentors are required to meet with their students in person two times a month in order to set goals, track student progress, and troubleshoot any issues. If mentors are not able to keep an appointment, they must notify their student at least 24 hours in advance.

Reporting – Mentors are required to immediately report suspicion or allegations of child abuse or exploitation.

Transportation – Mentors cannot drive students in their personal vehicles unless youth is over 18 years old

Must be flexible. Last-minute changes are expected when working with clients.

BENEFITS:

A gratifying experience that will likely result in an enriching friendship.

Receive a foundational knowledge of the U.S. resettlement program and the programs and services provided to refugees to help promote integration and self-sufficiency.

Support of the IRC staff throughout your volunteer experience.

For High School Opportunities, please email [email protected].

Benefits Renewal Assistance Volunteerhttps://www.rescue.org/volunteer/benefits-renewal-assistance-volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
Contribute to the self-sufficiency of clients who are beyond their initial resettlement period by assisting them in the reapplication process for benefits. Volunteers in this role should be willing to learn about the programs offered by the Department of Social Services. Please note this role asks for a higher hours per week committement than other volunteer roles.

Youth Tutorhttps://www.rescue.org/volunteer/youth-tutor-0

Start date: Ongoing
CONNECTION TO MISSION: Provide support with online assignments (Math, English, Science, History, etc.) with newly arrived refugee youth

LOCATION: Online or in client’s home; other sites possible.

TIME COMMITMENT: 5-10 hours per month

POSITION DESCRIPTION:

Provide subject-specific guidance to help students complete their homework and/or study for upcoming quizzes and tests

Use active listening strategies to allow student to determine content and pace of tutoring

Recognize primary role to support students become more confident, successful, and self directed learners

Create a professional and welcoming environment for students’ diverse cultures, language skills, and experiences

Understand that each client’s story, personality, skills, background, and needs are unique, therefore each tutor experience will be unique

RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS:

All communication and conduct with students must maintain a professional and academic focus and should only take place in the context of the tutoring relationship

IRC Tutors should end the tutoring session immediately if either party feels uncomfortable or unsafe

Tutors must notify the IRC Supervisor of any concerns or incidents immediately

Phone calls and/or texts should only occur with caregivers for the purpose of scheduling meetings and/or providing academic support. IRC tutors must utilize google voice when contacting parents

Tutors cannot be alone with any children without either the child’s parent present or another staff member present. This includes in-office visits, field activities, and home visits

Tutors are required to immediately report suspicion or allegations of child abuse or exploitation

Report your Volunteer hours by the end of each month

REQUIREMENTS / QUALIFICATIONS:

Willingness to navigate awkward interactions, especially at the beginning

Interest in working with youth newcomers to the U.S. from a variety of cultures and backgrounds

Must be able to tutor for a minimum of one semester

Must be flexible. Last-minute changes are expected when working with clients.

BENEFITS:

A gratifying experience that will likely result in an enriching friendship

Receive a foundational knowledge of the U.S. resettlement program and the programs and services provided to refugees to help promote integration and self-sufficiency

Support of the IRC staff throughout your volunteer experience

Refugee Welcomer https://www.rescue.org/volunteer/refugee-welcomer

Start date: Ongoing
Location: A family’s new home; Richmond International Aiport.

Time Commitment: As needed, when refugee families arrive. Apartment and house set-ups typically take 2-3 hours; airport pickups have many variables but also can take 2-3 hours.

Responsibilities: Refugee Welcomer volunteers will help to prepare an apartment for an incoming refugee family and will receive families as they arrive at the airport in Richmond.

Skills/Qualifications: Most importantly, volunteers should be welcoming and eager to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new homes. All skills and abilities needed, but we always need a couple of volunteers who are physically able to help move furniture and other items during an apartment set-up.

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.

Volunteer Driverhttps://www.rescue.org/volunteer/volunteer-driver

Start date: Ongoing
Location: In and around greater Richmond.

Time Commitment: As needed, when families request help with transportation. However, volunteers should normally expect to spend 2-3 hours on a given day working with a family.

Responsibilities: Newly arrived refugees have many appointments to get to, both at the IRC office and elsewhere around Richmond. Most do not have cars, and transportation can often be difficult and time-consuming. Help refugees by transporting them to some of these appointments and then taking them back home afterwards.

Skills/Qualifications: Volunteers must have access to a car and be willing to transport IRC clients with it. Volunteers should also 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, volunteers should be welcoming and eager to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new Richmond 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.

Resettlement Shop Volunteerhttps://www.rescue.org/volunteer/resettlement-shop-volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
Location: Richmond IRC office
Time Commitment: Shopping: Every Thursday 1pm – 4pm; Donation sorting and organizing: Ongoing

Responsibilities: IRC in Richmond accepts gently used household items and in turn donates them to clients via our Resettlement Shop. Help sort and organize incoming donations. Assist clients who are “shopping” for items to supplement their resettlement. Help them with the checkout process and to secure their items for the trip home.

Skills/Qualifications: Volunteers must be comfortable navigating situations with clients who might speak little or no English. Volunteers should also 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, volunteers should be welcoming and eager to help newly-arrived refugees settle into their new Richmond 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.

Housing Volunteerhttps://www.rescue.org/volunteer/housing-volunteer

Start date: Ongoing
Location: Richmond IRC office and in and around greater Richmond.

Time Commitment: Self-determined; varies.

Responsibilities: With guidence from the IRC staff, help us explore new housing areas and locations. Forge relationships with property owners and managers.

Skills/Qualifications: Are you a real estate agent ready to give back to your community? Or maybe just a long-time Richmonder with intimate knowledge of the housing and school districts? Help support the IRC’s mission as we welcome refugees to our 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.

IRC Richmond Future opportunities:

Employment Readiness Workshop:

Assist clients in developing skills needed for obtaining employment. Volunteers will have the opportunity to engage with clients at a job readiness workshop. Volunteers can assist with mock interview role playing and filling out job applications.

One day, 2-4 hour commitment for group of 5 volunteers.

Financial Literacy Workshop:

Assist clients to learn about banking and budgeting in the U.S. Explore benefits of different banking institutions and topics such as direct deposit of paychecks. Assist interested clients to open a bank account. Flexible hours for group of 5 volunteers.

Commonwealth Charities has several volunteer opportunities in the Richmond area.
Youth Mentor

Our Refugee Resettlement program is seeking volunteers to provide youth one-to-one mentoring with the goal of assisting clients with their career path. If the client is in high school, the volunteer will assist with the community college application process. If the client did not complete high school and would like to obtain a GED diploma, the volunteer will assist with the application process, class information, transportation information, etc. If the client has a college degree in their home country, the volunteer will assist with the college application process, FAFSA, federal work study, etc. The application is here – Volunteer Application

Transportation Volunteer

One of CCC’s main responsibilities is connecting refugees to community resources, which requires driving them to and from appointments, classes and interviews. Help refugees by transporting them to appointments and home afterwards. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Cultural Orientation Class Volunteer

CCC provides cultural orientation to all newly arrived families, to help them quick become self-sufficient and learn basics of life in the U.S. Topics include, but are not limited to, how to find a job, US laws, public education for children, banking/money management, and housing rights and responsibilities. Volunteers will work with our Education Specialist and assist with either virtual or in-person cultural orientation classes. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Family Mentor

Family Mentors will work with CCC Case Management staff to provide on-going support to families as they resettle in their new home. Mentors are asked to commit to at least 6 months, meeting with the family multiple times a month. Needs of the family vary, but typically mentors assist with connecting families to community resources, assisting with grocery shopping, accessing libraries, and visiting local attractions. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Digital Literacy Volunteer

Help newly arrived refugees learn basic computer skills and complete various online tasks. Tasks can include setting up email and other accounts, teaching families how to use online platforms like Zoom, apply for online jobs, etc. https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Volunteers to assist with Apartment set-up

Help secure, prepare, and furnish an apartment for a newly arrived family. Assistance needed with shopping for household goods, hygiene items and food; delivering donations, moving furniture; creating a welcoming environment for a new family.https://www.cccofva.org/richmondvolunteerpositions/refugee-resettlement-(6)

ReEstablish Richmond also has a number of ways to volunteer-

https://www.reestablishrichmond.org/volunteer-opportunities

A current need is for English Tutors:

Time commitment: 1 hour/week for at least 6 months.

As an English tutor, you could work to support:

Beginner adult English language learners who are seeking to learn or improve their English skills in order to build confidence, navigate life in a new culture, and support their family

An advanced adult English language learner who is seeking to strengthen their writing skills

What support is provided for volunteers?

Training with an ESL Instructor and fellow volunteer

ESL Kits with an Oxford picture dictionary and other material

WhatsApp Group For English Tutors to share resources and advice

Volunteer portal + monthly newsletter with resources

Monthly Neighborly Chats

Annual Volunteer Summit

Q: I'm from the Richmond area. Do any organizations in my area accept in-kind donations?

A: Commonwealth Catholic Charities has currently paused all other in-kind donations besides its wish list to manage the high level of demand and desire to help our allies. Please use the wish list below to purchase essential items needed to welcome families in Richmond. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2MEE7IWK4GIQT?ref_=wl_fv_le. The IRC in Richmond is not able to accept any donated clothing, household items or other donated goods at this time.

Q: I live in Richmond and have a friend that lives in Charlottesville. We really want to help, but are unable to get around very well due to health concerns. Is there an online shopping list from which we can purchase items that our new neighbors need?
A: Yes. You can shop IRC’s Richmond’s Target Wishlist for home set-up items, and if you’re a Target Circle member in Virginia, vote for the IRC to receive funds from Target. Or you can shop Charlottesville’s Amazon Wishlist for home set-up items.
Q: My church in the Richmond 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 Richmond offers several team-oriented activities. These activities range from cultural outings with clients to organizing fundraising events. Gather a group of friends, family members, or co-workers and get involved!
For more information, have one member of your group complete an application – https://rescueglobal.secure.force.com/volunteer/  In the field “Please enter the top three positions that interest you,” indicate you have a group and your area of volunteer interest. Current opportunities include:

Home Setup:

Collect donations of new and gently used items to help welcome a family to greater RVA. Assist staff on move-in day with transporting items and setting up the house or apartment. Flexible hours for group of 5-10 volunteers.

Family Outing:

Help families explore the city of Richmond and learn how to use public transportation. Have a picnic at Maymont Park, take the family to the library. Show refugees the heart of the city and its central cultural draws. 5-10 volunteers.

Q: I am a UMW leader in Richmond. I have spoken to other UMW leaders and we would like to do a shopping for Afghan Allies push. Can you give us some ideas of ways that we can do this online and have the items shipped directly to the organizations?

A: This is a great way to help. You might challenge other UMW groups to make this a fun competition!

Catholic Commonwealth Charities keep Amazon wishlists for Richmond, Roanoke, and Newport News. https://www.cccofva.org/wish-list

If you are in Northern Virginia, Lutheran Social Services maintains this list –https://smile.amazon.com/hz/charitylist/ls/WOJPDI5G68MO/ref=smi_ext_lnk_lcl_cl . CDC also has an Amazon wishlist that can be found here: Check out my list on Amazon. And the list for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington is here (If items are backlogged or unavailable, please consider a financial donation or gift cards.) http://a.co/cfQyvx0

You and your friends can also shop IRC’s Richmond’s Target Wishlist for home set-up items, and if you’re a Target Circle member in Virginia, vote for the IRC to receive funds from Target. Or you can shop Charlottesville’s Amazon Wishlist for home set-up items.

Q: I am a real estate agent from Richmond? Can I help with the resettlement process?

A:  YES!!  The IRC needs help exploring new housing areas and locations and forging relationships with property owners and managers. in and around Richmond. Time commitment is self-determined and varies.  If you are interested, complete a Volunteer Application online https://rescueglobal.secure.force.com/volunteer/. 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.

ROANOKE AREA

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

Commonwealth Catholic Charity in Roanoke has a number of opportunities. https://www.cccofva.org/volunteer-positions/ Application form can be found here – https://www.cognitoforms.com/CommonwealthCatholicCharities2/VolunteerApplication

Some of the current ones are:

Cultural Orientation Class Volunteer

CCC provides cultural orientation to all newly arrived families, to help them quick become self-sufficient and learn basics of life in the U.S. Topics include, but are not limited to, how to find a job, US laws, public education for children, banking/money management, and housing rights and responsibilities. Volunteers will work with our Education Specialist and assist with either virtual or in-person cultural orientation classes.

Digital Literacy Volunteer

Help newly arrived refugees learn basic computer skills and complete various online tasks. Tasks can include setting up email and other accounts, teaching families how to use online platforms like Zoom, apply for online jobs, etc.

Family Mentors

Family Mentors will work with CCC Case Management staff to provide on-going support to families as they resettle in their new home. Mentors are asked to commit to at least 6 months, meeting with the family multiple times a month. Needs of the family vary, but typically mentors assist with connecting families to community resources, assisting with grocery shopping, accessing libraries, and visiting local attractions.

Mentor

Mentors will communicate weekly with their student using a choice of methods that might include email, phone, Zoom or facetime. The mentor will serve as a liaison and friend to the student and provide academic support, research and exploration of education or career goals. Mentors will encourage students to gain financial literacy and learn about and get involved in their community.
Flexible hours and training provided. Six-month minimum commitment.

Transportation Volunteer

One of CCC’s main responsibilities is connecting refugees to community resources, which requires driving them to and from appointments, classes and interviews. Help refugees by transporting them to appointments and home afterwards.

Volunteer Coordinator
CCC is seeking a volunteer willing to assist our resettlement program and serve as a Volunteer Coordinator. Duties may include responding to and tracking volunteers, training new volunteers through orientation materials, on- boarding new volunteers through the paperwork and background process. Volunteer Coordinator will communicate with staff to assess needs and seek volunteers qualified to match these requests.

Volunteers to assist with Apartment set-up

Help secure, prepare, and furnish an apartment for a newly arrived family. Assistance needed with shopping for household goods, hygiene items and food; delivering donations, moving furniture; creating a welcoming environment for a new family.

Q: I'm from the Roanoke area. Do any organizations in my area accept in-kind donations?

A: Commonwealth Catholic Charities has currently paused all other in-kind donations besides its wish list to manage the high level of demand and desire to help our allies. Please use the wish list below to purchase essential items needed to welcome families in Roanoke. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3N63H65ERYNB5?ref_=wl_fv_le

UNDERSTANDING THE RESETTLEMENT PROCESS

VAUMC Refugee Response: A resource to help Afghanistan allies

After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the subsequent evacuation of a number of Afghan allies from Kabul, the Virginia Conference started a Refugee Response Team (RRT) to lead the conference’s effort to assist in the resettlement of our new neighbors. The Refugee Response Team is here to educate and connect churches to the heart of Jesus who also was a refugee. The RRT is meeting every other week to find ways to provide resources as churches respond to the needs of Afghan refugees in their community. Because of the large numbers and staggered arrival of Afghan allies the belief is that churches will need to be involved for the long haul. 

As Afghan allies are resettled in Virginia communities over the coming months and years consistent support to help them transition will be necessary. We understand that this has and will lead to many questions about the Afghans who are arriving and how to get involved in assisting them. We hope the following information is the most up-to-date information the RRT has and we hope it will help churches discern how to get involved.  The RRT will do its best to keep accurate and up-to-date information available so churches are best equipped to serve.

Understanding the SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) and Resettlement Process
  1. Understanding the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)

The US Government has established Operation Allies Welcome to help bring these Afghan immigrants to the United States. Afghan immigrants all face extensive background checks. For many of the SIV recipients, the checks were not completed before they were evacuated from Afghanistan and the process has continued at U.S. bases in the US and overseas.  Immigrants are also undergoing medical exams, including screening and vaccinations for COVID and other communicable diseases. Once immigrants leave these bases, Resettlement Agencies, under contract to the State Department, will work to settle these newcomers into communities. The information below also describes other visas provided to some Afghans such as Priority 2 and Humanitarian Parolee.

Additional Resources 

  1. Understanding Resettlement Process 

Afghan Allies who fled from their homeland need to go through a certain Resettlement process. VAUMC RRT has identified three stages of resettlement. 

  1. Stage 1. Screening – As mentioned above, the S.I.V. and humanitarian parolee allies are staged at a U.S. military base for continued screening.  For refugees that have arrived in Virginia, there are three bases that are hosting them until they are resettled:  Fort Lee (1,700), Fort Pickett (5,900), and Marine Corps Base Quantico(3,700).
  2. Stage 2. Temporary Settlement – After going through the screening process, allies will be assigned to a resettlement agency and a caseworker. They will be housed in temporary housing, such as hotels or AirBnBs until a permanent settlement is secured.  
  3. Stage 3. Permanent Settlement – As soon as affordable housing is available, they will be sent to permanent housing, as they establish grounds to integrate into the society. 

 

What can the church do?

The RRT believes the church’s role will be essential in helping the Afghan Allies to resettle in this country, as our new neighbors. 

  1. Pray – Churches are asked to join in prayer for these families, who lost their nation, home, and were forced to abandon everything to merely survive. The work of compassion starts with prayer and should continue for the long haul. 
  2. Educate – Churches can start the process of understanding the reason why helping these families is important. Faith communities can also help the community at large to understand that these are allies who helped us. It is also important to help faith communities remember that the Bible calls for God’s followers to reach out to the least and remind members how Jesus was once a refugee in Egypt. 
  3. Connect – Connect with groups and agencies who are helping in this resettlement process. Churches can also connect with representatives of the Virginia Conference, who can connect you with the agencies. You are encouraged to connect with other churches to unite in the effort to support Afghan allies.

 

Stage 1. Screening 

  1. In-kind Donations – Churches are asked to join the effort to provide winter clothes for the families. VAUMC RRT has identified and partnered with Team Rubicon in their donation list. 

Amazon wish list for Quantico – Check out my list on Amazon

Amazon wish list for Fort Pickett – Check out my list on Amazon

An Amazon wish list is now being created for Fort Lee.

  1. Volunteering – RRT is appointing representatives who will lead the effort of volunteer coordination with Team Rubicon. If your church is near the following three U.S. Bases please contact our representative and join in the effort to volunteer.
    1. Fort Pickett – Crenshaw UMC,  Rev. Nadeem Khokhar
    2. Fort Lee – Blandford UMC
    3. Marine Base in Quantico – Ebenezer UMC, Amy Miller Director of Missions and Outreach

Stage 2. Temporary Settlement 

During this stage, the resettlement agencies are in need of monetary donations. The donations are used to cover the cost involved in temporary settlements, such as hotels and AirBnBs. The following agencies are identified and partnering with VAUMC RRT. 

  1. UMCOR Global Migration Advance Special – Sending your offerings to UMCOR or the Conference Center will directly support the resettlement effort for Christian World Service. Click this link to give online. CWS is also directly involved in resettling families in the Harrisonburg area. 
  2. NOVA area churches: Lutheran Social Service of the National Capital Area – LSSNCA who is currently supporting around 1,000 S.I.Vs and Parolees. To give directly to LSSNCA, use this link and select Refugee Resettlement and Immigration (RIS).  Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) To give directly to ECDC use this link https://www.ecdcus.org/get-involved/donate/ or to help co-sponsor a family with ECDC you can find more information at https://www.ecdcus.org/community-sponsorship/.
    Catholic Charities, Diocese of Arlington’s Amazon wish list is https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/G0EPWH86L6MC/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex and a flyer for other ways to help CCDA with Afghan Allies https://www.ccda.net/uploadedfiles/ccda/pages/give_help/welcome_the_newcomer/afghan%20response%20flyer.pdf
  3. Richmond, Roanoke, Newport News area: Commonwealth Catholic Charities – CCC provides extensive support in the three areas. You may donate or use the Amazon wish list to help in this effort.
  4. Richmond, Charlottesville area: International Rescue Committee: IRC directly supports the resettlement process in the Richmond and Charlottesville area. You can find more information on their work and ways to be involved at https://www.rescue.org/announcement/how-help-afghan-evacuees-virginia.  To give directly to IRC use this link. To help sponsor a family, use this link-https://www.rescue.org/announcement/expanding-our-impact-through-community-family-sponsorship or to volunteer to assist with apartment set-up, transportation, and administrative support using this link https://www.rescue.org/volunteer.

Stage 3. Permanent Settlement 

 RRT believes that this stage is when the church can truly shine in their love to share the hope, as the family resettles in this community. RRT is identifying district-level Refugee Response representatives who will coordinate the district’s effort with the partnership of the resettlement agencies. 

  1. NoVA District Representative – Sarah Casey, Director of Serve Ministries at Floris UMC
  2. Richmond District Representative (TBD)
  3. Charlottesville District Representative (TBD)
  4. Roanoke District Representative – Rev. Morris Fleischer 
  5. Newport News District Representative – (TBD)
  6. Harrisonburg District Representative – (TBD)
Connect with RRT

Connect with RRT to help continue its efforts to resource the churches in the process of resettlement. Email Serving Ministries for more information!

Or join the Refugee Response Resource Google Group to receive regular updates! Fill out this form to join this group! 

 

 Resources

As the world witnesses the humanitarian crisis occurring in Afghanistan, the Virginia Conference is providing the following resources to help aid your understanding and ability to care for refugees. 

 

Kenn Speicher is the point of contact for the Virginia Conference Refugee Resettlement team.

From the Bishop: Helping Afghan refugees

Guidelines for Assisting Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Refugee Families from Afghanistan (pdf)

Please click here to let the conference know how you may offer support to refugees

 

 

 The Simple Steps You Can Take Now to Help Afghan Refugees – https://www.npr.org/2021/08/17/1028483700/help-afghanistan-refugees

*This resource from NPR gives some simple anyone can do in a matter of minutes to help Afghan refugees

Welcoming and Advocating for Afghan Refugees – https://www.ucc.org/welcoming-and-advocating-for-afghan-sivs-and-refugees-a-toolkit/

*This resource comes to us by way of the United Church of Christ. You’ll find an advocacy toolkit and information about how your church can become an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.”

 Understanding Global Migration – https://www.umcjustice.org/what-we-care-about/civil-and-human-rights/global-migration

*Our United Methodist resources provide excellent Biblical and theological perspectives on global migration and refugees. Use this resource as a Bible study, with a Sunday school class, or in a sermon.

 FAIRFAX COUNTY – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FFX_SIV

*If your church community is located in or near Fairfax County fill out the survey above from Fairfax County Interfaith. This survey will help faith communities in Fairfax directly respond to refugees coming from Afghanistan.

 

Podcast: No one left behind; Afghan Refugee Crisis

 After nearly 20 years of war, the United States and its allies recently withdrew their forces from the country. The Taliban, in a matter of 10 days, quickly took control after being out of power since 2001. We chat with Bill Shugarts about how the church can help Afghan Refugee now. LISTEN HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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