Through various drives by individual churches and community ministry groups, our diocese has made a helpful dent in the ongoing needs for our new Afghan neighbors. We have raised money, donated desperately needed items, foods, and gift cards. It is difficult for churches and individuals to commit to hosting a family because of the many responsibilities that they must take on and the fact that it is an ongoing process and not a one-time fix. However, it is possible. EMM recommends having a team of ten people based on the amount and types of needs. InterFaith Rise has also been vital to our efforts and participation. Both of these organizations have more ways to help and training available now so we hope you will consider finding out more!
Our Afghan Refugee Task Force is evaluating how we will move forward as a group. We meet once a month and are seeking more members. If you are interested, please contact us (info. below!)
1. EMM (Episcopal Migration Ministries) is offering training and support for helping our Afghan Allies through the program called Neighbor to Neighbor. Through this program, you can sponsor families or help in other ways with your congregation, community organizations, and teams of individuals. There are options for practical support as well as fostering relationships and helping to make connections. There is also an opportunity to become a certified sponsor circle. 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. Fill out an initial interest form to schedule a meeting with The Rev. Chris McNabb, Program Manager for Neighbor to Neighbor to discuss how to help and how to become part of a Sponsor Circle.
2. One way an individual or congregation can help a refugee family in their resettlement process is to partner with Interfaith-RISE (I-Rise), a housing ministry that specializes in this area. I-Rise has offices in Highland Park and Vineland, to serve middle and southern New Jersey. As an I-Rise partner, you can assist I-Rise staff as they welcome families. You can participate by donating needed items, shopping to stock a new home pantry following a shopping list, doing the physical set-up of a new home, meeting families at the airport, offering transportation to appointments, tutoring in English, and a variety of other ministries. Consult the I-Rise website and/or contact a member of the Task-Force.