The abrupt pull out from Afghanistan in August and the evacuation of at least 65,000 refugees to the US, with at least 900 of those being relocated to Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have many in our communities organizing to help. Here is a FAQ with suggestions on what we can do.
1) What is the most pressing need? – This is an enormous ask, but the most pressing need is HOUSING. Host families are needed in the short term, but the best situation for refugee fa
milies is their own apartment. If you have an in-law apartment or similar arrangement that you are willing to rent at sub-market rates, that would be enormously helpful. – The housing prices in the Boston area are one of the reasons why most refugees will be resettled in lower cost areas such as Western Massachusetts, Worcester, Lowell and New Hampshire.
2) I wish I could help with housing, but I can’t. What other ways can I help? – Cash donations to meet resettlement costs are needed most as federal funds are limited. o These three resettlement agencies eagerly accept donations:
International Institute of New England (IINE) – iine.org
Ascentria Care Alliance – ascentria.org/donate/donate-now
Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center – riacboston.org
o ICNA Relief is a Muslim aid organization that is well positioned to provide culturally sensitive support for Afghan refugees – https://icnarelief.org/refugee-services/ – Donate furniture. o Household goods in Acton – https://householdgoods.org/ o Mission of Deeds in Reading – https://www.missionofdeeds.org – Donate a car. Cars are invaluable as means of transportation as well as means for potential employment, ie. Uber driver. – Organize a coat drive. – Put together Welcome/Friendship Baskets – https://www.riacboston.org/friendship-baskets/ – Contribute to the ICNA Relief Welcome Registry at Walmart – https://www.walmart.com/registry/er/9b51442e-2a0a-4541-b3f1-88e7c0a9be03
3) I would like to directly get to know and work with a refugee family. How can I do that? – The resettlement agency Ascentria works with Neighborhood Support Teams (NST) to support refugee families – https://www.ascentria.org/neighborhood-support-teams – This involves 20-30 people supporting 1 family and committing to a combined 40-hrs a week for the first two months and a commitment of at least a year, as well as a combined financial commitment of $6000 – $12000. – If we have enough interest at FCB, as well as people willing to lead the effort, we could form an NST. Otherwise interested individuals can join existing NSTs in Belmont and Lexington.
4) I have some great ideas for Social Justice initiatives or I am interested in getting more involved. What should I do? – Join us! We are the Social Action Committee, and we meet monthly from 7:00pm to 8:30pm on the 4th Tuesday of the month, currently virtually. Our next meeting is October 26. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our email list so you won’t miss any meeting announcements. If you are interested in being part of a Neighborhood Support Team, would like to organize a coat drive or have any questions, contact me, Eva Patalas, at email@example.com. Let me know how you choose to get involved.