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Grace Refugee Ministry

     

UPDATE: 2018-05-16
After several months of hard work, Grace Church is now on the list to receive a refugee family. There are six churches ahead of us, but given our willingness to support a family for an entire year, it’s possible we might move up the list. In addition, the outpouring of support from around the parish has been deeply moving. Thank you to everyone who has pledged to this important ministry! Sadly, though, the number of refugee families entering the United States has dropped precipitously.  In January, February and March, Lutheran Social Services (LSS), our partner organization, helped relocate 30-40 people per month.  In April, only two refuges families arrived for resettlement. Right now, there are no families scheduled to arrive.  LSS has contacted the State Department for more information, but they have not received any explanation. We remain very hopeful that more families will soon arrive, and we will be able to help one resettle in the area. We will keep the parish up-to-date as we hear more, but please keep all refugees around the world in your prayers. If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Andrew, or Katrina Kugel at katrinaemmerson@yahoo.com.

The Refugee Committee at Grace Church is partnering with Lutheran Social Services/National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) to sponsor a refugee family through their Good Neighbor program. This will be a one-year commitment and includes assisting the family in finding and setting up their new apartment, providing rental assistance, as well as providing additional support (including the basics such as stocking the pantry and welcoming the family at the airport, assisting with financial education and job development, and transportation assistance).

LSS/NCA describes the program as a “group of volunteers who closely works together to help a newly arrived refugee family rebuild their lives in America. The Good Neighbor serves as a personal guide through a culture and community that is new and often strange to refugees. Most importantly, Good Neighbors are trustworthy and caring friends to families who frequently have endured terrifying persecution and turbulent journeys to reach newfound opportunity in the Washington, DC metro area.”

To read about an example of one of these partnerships, through the eyes of their children, please click here.

In addition to financial support, this effort will require a lot of helping hands. We are looking for people to help with the following teams:

Welcome Team

  • Greet family at airport. Work with Transportation Team to arrange for the transportation of family’s initial housing.
  • Provide orientation to home and community.
  • Schedule social gatherings and outings.
  • In conjunction with the General Coordinator, visit regularly with the family.

Qualifications: Familiarity with the community; a friendly, outgoing spirit.
Hours per week: 2-4 hours

Employment Team

  • Prior to family’s arrival, explore employment opportunities and benefits.
  • Assess the skills and interests of the employable adults.
  • Help draft a simple resume.
  • Work with the Transportation Team to coordinate transportation to and from work site.
  • Keep open communication between refugee and LSS/NCA job developer and school liaison.
  • When appropriate, help employable adult gain access to job training and education.

Qualifications:  Knowledge of job hunting procedures and resume building, patience
Hours per week:  2-4 hours (most work will be immediately following the family’s arrival)

Finance Team

  • Adapt the budget sheet to meet the needs of the family.
  • Identify and cultivate sources of funding; see that there are funds available for the family’s expenses and rental assistance. (All donations should go directly through LSS/NCA).
  • Collect, distribute, and account for new and continuing funds.
  • Teach banking, budgeting, and basic finance to the family.
  • Assist in the preparation of income tax forms and savings account management.

Qualifications:  Knowledge of family finances and banking procedures.
Hours per week:  2-4 hours

Food & Clothing Team

  • Collect and deliver first month’s supply of food and perishables.
  • Schedule a trip to the local grocery store.
  • Schedule outings to department and thrift stores.
  • Provide any weather-related clothing needs.
  • All food must be culturally appropriate (Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian)
  • Clothing must also be culturally appropriate (with the exception of winter wear). Therefore, clothing should be purchased/collected following the family’s arrival. It is impossible to know exact sizes of clothing prior to family’s arrival.

Qualifications:  Ability to shop on a limited budget. (Most work will be immediately following arrival.)
Hours per week: 2-4 hours (Most work will be immediately following arrival.)

Housing & Furnishings Team

  • Look at affordable housing prior to family’s arrival. Find temporary housing if this is most practical. (LSS may assist/guide in this process.)
  • Once the family has arrived, help them sign the lease (LSS will not co-sign a lease, arrangements must be made with landlord for family to sign lease after arrival. However, apartment and set up must be secured before arrival. LSS may assist/guide in this negotiation.)
  • Collect and deliver any furniture that has been donated by organization/congregation members and outside donors to the family’s permanent residence.
  • Call utility companies to make arrangements for service. Coordinate with the finance team to make deposits/donations to LSS to provide family assistance.
  • Have a telephone installed or cell phones arranged.
  • Be prepared to inform/teach family about home security and basic home maintenance.

Qualifications:  Knowledge of home maintenance and ability to communicate effectively with both realtors and renters. Most work will be before the family’s arrival.
Hours per week: 2-4 hours (Most work will be before the family’s arrival.)

Transportation Team

  • Coordinate with other teams to arrange for initial transportation to and from job interviews, stores and social events.
  • For any children under the age of eight, make sure that they all have a car or booster seat available.
  • Instruct family in the use of public transportation.
  • Assist the family in obtaining state identification cards, if necessary.

Qualifications:  Valid drivers’ license, current vehicle insurance, availability during day & evening hours at least one day per week.  Additional drug test screening requisite.  Training required to drive LSS vehicles.
Hours per week: 2-4 hours (The greatest need will be immediately following arrival.)

For more information, please email GraceChurchRefugeeCommittee@gmail.com.  Thank you!

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Directions

Grace Episcopal Church
Grace Church Road, located off of Georgia Ave. in downtown Silver Spring, near the intersection of Georgia Ave. and 16th Street.

The church office will be open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. After hours you may leave a message on the answering machine, which will direct you to individual voice mail boxes for members of the church staff.

Telephone: Parish Office: 301.585.3515; Parish Fax: 301.585.4309

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1607 Grace Church Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 585-3515