"You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Deuteronomy 10:19
As a community, Am Shalom welcomed Aziz, Rokhash, Lamis (9) and Yousef (7), a refugee family from Aleppo, Syria, to Chicago on Friday, January 27. Read more about the family's arrival here.
On April 7, we welcomed Rokan (Rokhash's sister), Abdul-Rahman, Maryam (6) and Hussein (3) to Chicago!
Am Shalom volunteers are serving as mentors and tutors for the families, helping them learn English, navigating American norms and culture with them, supporting the children as they acclimate to new schools, helping with day-to-day tasks like transportation and financial management, and so much more. The mentors and tutors share some of their experiences on our blog.
Here are three ways you can help Am Shalom's refugee families right now:
1. We are accepting donations through our Richard Wolff Human Needs Fund. Please click here to make a contribution, and mark it in honor of the refugee family. We have made a long-term commitment to support these families and the refugee community. As we get to know each other and gain a better understanding of their areas of greatest need, funds will be allocated to best serve them. This may include, but not be limited to, after school care, summer activities and emergency health care and services.
2. Host a fundraising event or activity! Click here to see where the funds raised might be applied. Need help coming up with ideas? We can help! Contact Laura Horn at 847.835.4800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Store gift cards are something refugees can always use! The next time you are at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Jewel or any other major chain store, please consider picking up a gift card. You can bring it to the Am Shalom office and we'll make sure the family receives it.
The greater immigrant and refugee community also needs our help!
One meaningful way to help the community is to share information or contacts about potential employment opportunities. The co-sponsoring agencies, particularly RefugeeOne, would really appreciate our help with this! Here are some of the major factors that go into the logistics of job sourcing for refugees:
Transportation/Location: Due to the refugees' low level English skills, they usually fill "back of the house" roles. This means they're at work late into the night, sometimes after CTA buses and trains have stopped. This greatly limits the number of refugees who can apply. Ideally, jobs will be situated near 24 hour transportation. Furthermore, most of the refugees served by RefugeeOne, HIAS and UpGlo (refugee resettlement agencies) live in the Albany Park, Rogers Park and Skokie neighborhoods. Job retention goes down when commute times are more than an hour.
- Full-time: Almost all of the refugees need full time jobs to support their families. Many times, refugees are promised full-time work at restaurants, when the reality ends up being just 3-4 days a week.
- Language Capacity: 95% of RefugeeOne clients enter the U.S. speaking little to no English. This creates a lot of barriers, especially in a fast-paced environment like a booming kitchen. If language capacity is a must, that is really important to share with the co-sponsoring agency and will likely precluse a large number of refugees who have been here for less than 2 or 3 years.
Have a resource to share? Please contact Laura Horn at 847.835.4800 or email@example.com.
Cradles to Crayons serves many refugees, homeless and low-income families with children from birth through age 12. They supply essential items, free of charge, by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.