How you can help
- Refugee Family Project volunteer training with Lutheran Social Services, January 14th, 2–4 pm at the church.
Help out or join a team:
- Now collecting quality furniture. We’ll collect other household items for the family’s apartment starting January 2017
- Housing: Work with Lutheran Social Services to set up apartment and utilities
- Transportation: Coordinate rides, drive the family to appointments, and teach them how to navigate the DC area.
- Employment & Financial Education: Help with the job search and budgeting
- Language: Teach English or help translate from Arabic
- Medical: Find the family doctors and enroll them in medical programs
- Youth involvement: Social media, fundraising, being friends to youth who are new to the country
- Community Guide: Be a friend, go to the grocery store together, and introduce the family to American culture
- Social Services: Help the family sign up for appropriate documentation and state programs
The Refugee Family Project
Every day, the news is filled with images of refugees fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, with renewed conflict in Mosul just this week. Our hearts break for them, especially the children, and we wonder what we can really do.
In 2017, we are going to do something very personal. The NPC Session has approved the Refugee Family Project, in which we will welcome and support one family from Iraq or Syria, previously approved as refugees by our government, in their first year in the United States. This will be a partnership with Lutheran Social Services (LSS), which works with churches to welcome our new neighbors.
The US government determines how many refugees it will accept, puts them through a careful security screening process, and chooses who will come to the US. Agencies like Lutheran Social Services are contracted to provide case management and services for those who are selected, and to link them with Christian churches.
We will help to locate housing for the family and prepare an apartment, welcome them at the airport, help to enroll their children in school, help them to learn English and settle into the community, help them to find work, and provide transportation while they are learning to access public transportation. We will be their friends and a key part of their support system as they build a new life.
We will not be in this alone! In addition to working with LSS, we will be following in the footsteps of other peer churches, including Chevy Chase Presbyterian, Immanuel Presbyterian in McLean, and Falls Church Anglican.
Our proposed mission budget for 2017 includes a $20,000 line item for this project. Our funds are paired with resources provided by Lutheran Social Services, the US government, and the family themselves as they begin to earn income. After one year, the family is expected to be financially self-supporting. That’s a tall order, but also a mandate of this program—and the refugee families want to become independent!
There are some things we can specify and know in advance about the family that God is preparing for us. We will request a family of up to 5 people from Syria or Iraq. There are also some things we won’t know until shortly before they arrive. They may have had professional careers before they had to flee, or they may have little education. They may be Muslim or Christian. In any scenario, we will have an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and grace, show what it means to be the body of Christ, and invite a family seeking refuge into our lives, our church, and our hearts.
Please pray for the family that God will bring to us, as you pray for all those who are refugees. We will also need many volunteers to help with driving, tutoring, Arabic translation, job placement, and more. If you feel called to help in some way, please contact John Turpin, Director of Serve Ministries. If you have any questions about this ministry, please contact Pastor Donna Marsh.