For many of us, offering direct support to refugees is immensely satisfying. While fewer refugees are being admitted to the U.S. for resettlement, we have been matching volunteer teams with refugees and asylees already in our communities with short term needs since 2018.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have expanded our Helping Hands program in ways we could not have anticipated. The Coronavirus pandemic has created more need than ever among these most vulnerable populations.
In this time of COVID-19, many of our current Helping Hands families are dealing with job loss, health concerns, food and shelter insecurities, and barriers to accessing the information needed to navigate this pandemic. While we have been able to respond to our families and to many more thanks to donations to our COVID Impact fund, there are growing numbers of refugees, asylees and others who have no access to services, and lack family networks or other safety nets. With the help of our partner, Catholic Charities, we are currently ramping up our Helping Hands program and calling for new Helping Hands volunteer teams.
Helping Hands volunteers come from faith or social and civic groups, local families and generous individuals with time to share. Applications are available here: Helping Hands Application.
Our Helping Hands team will orient new volunteers, providing insight into refugee resettlement while highlighting best practices for assisting refugees who were on their way to becoming independent and successful new Americans when this pandemic hit.
Typically, Helping Hands volunteers provide specific needs or assistance over the short term (typically 2-3 months.) This may entail providing donated clothing, household items, toiletries, baby and school supplies as well as assistance with medical appointments, language classes, job training/searches, housing searches, guidance on employment or education, and career mentorship. During this pandemic, the needs are more basic, and even more urgent. Helping Hands volunteers who support a refugee or asylee have full access to the Hearts & Homes for Refugees Resource Bank for tips on how to help with housing, employment, health care, furniture and more.
For questions, send an email to program coordinator Lisa Kiernan: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To see a list of previous cases, take a look at our First Round Helping Hands Cases.