|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
Make a Difference... Befriending a refugee family might mean welcoming them at the airport, taking them on their first trip to the grocery store, having dinner together, showing them around town, teaching English, taking family members to appointments, picking up donations of furniture or household goods from local donors or helping in a job search. You will also provide moral support and become their ally, advocate and friend. The time commitment is usually 2 or 3 hours a week. To find this kind of opportunity in your community, go to VolunteerMatch.org, enter your zip code and choose the interest area, "Immigrants and Refugees." Or contact your local chapter of Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities or Jewish Children and Family Service.
Talk About It Even if your family does not choose this volunteer option, with so many refugees arriving in the United States each year, it's important to have a conversation with your child about their stories.
Learn About It Read The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman about a recent immigrant from Somalia and his first day of school in America. The watercolor illustrations help tell the story of this little boy's fears and hopes. For a list of children's books about refugees, visit the Willesden Bookshop online.
Photo: The Color of Home
"When I arrived in America, though I had left the war physically far behind, in my mind, the soldiers were still chasing to kill me, my stomach was always hungry, and my fear and distrust kept me from opening up to new friendships. I thought the war was over when I left Cambodia, but I realize now that for survivors and all those involved, the war is never over just because the guns have fallen silent."
"While every refugee's story is different and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage - the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their shattered lives."
-Antonio Guterres, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Two years ago, Denise and Dan Griep of Minneapolis recognized that each of them volunteering separately detracted from quality time the whole family could be spending together. So, together with their children, Ellie (16), Jack (13) and Mary (10), they signed up with Migration and Refugee Services of Catholic Charities to befriend a newly arrived refugee family. Before long, they were matched with a Somali family of nine-two parents, and seven kids ranging in age from 10 to 21.
While the Somali family welcomed the Grieps into their modest apartment, the initial visits proved challenging: the families did not speak each others' languages. Fortunately, the family's older daughter could translate. The Grieps learned that "their" family was Muslim. Due to strife in their country, they had lived for an extended period in a refugee camp. When they arrived empty-handed in the U.S., each had received a coat and a backpack. The Grieps sensed immediately that the family had many needs.
Photo: The Griep Family
If you live in the Twin Cities, join us at the Mall of America for the Hands on Twin Cities Volunteer Expo on Saturday, February 23, anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. Meet representatives from over 100 nonprofit organizations who work with volunteers. Be sure to stop by DGT's booth in front of the main entrance to Bloomingdale's. Hope to see you there!
For Twin Cities residents: Sign up for our free monthly list of family volunteer opportunities. We canvas the Twin Cities to compile a creative roster of fresh, timely family volunteer projects. Our list is ideal for families seeking one-time or ongoing projects. It includes five different family volunteer opportunities 10 months a year. Click here to sign up. Simply enter your email address in the box and hit send.