by Kenn Speicher, Arlington & Alexandria District Mission Coordinator
The surge of Afghan refugees is happening now, and many are allies who served bravely with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Our faith calls us to help all whose lives and safety are endangered, and we believe that we have a moral obligation to help those who have risked everything to keep us safe. While we are heartbroken by the situation in Afghanistan, seeing the outpouring of support from communities and people of faith across our area is heartwarming.
Many of you want to assist these evacuees and their families. Here are some ways you can help now:
- Donate Money – to refugee resettlement agencies and other refugee-serving organizations
- Buy Goods – check first with response organizers since there has been a large outpouring of donations
- Donate new or gently used major items (furniture, computers/iPads, used car, etc.)
- Volunteer your time
- Leverage your skills and networks
The Virginia Conference Office has created a page with Resources to Help Afghan Refugees. In northern Virginia, for those who would like to make financial donations, please consider the area refugee resettlement agencies: Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities, and ECDC Other organizations to consider include Homes Not Borders, and various church ministries the area. According to the local nonprofits, the following are the top areas of needs: housing, volunteering, transportation, and behavioral health/wellness services. Please consider volunteering your time. This is an urgent need.
NOVA Friends of Refugees has teamed with its sister organization, One Journey, to create a Volunteer Listing to assist ALL refugee resettlement agencies and other refugee-serving groups in northern Virginia. You are invited to indicate your interest via a Google Form. The survey will help nonprofits identify local volunteers, triage responses, and match volunteers with the most urgent refugee needs. If you have connections to housing options, would like to volunteer your time, or donate major items (used car, sofa, computer, etc.). Already, more than 150 volunteers have added their information to the listing, Many have offered to provide housing., both short-term and longer.
Welcome the newcomers The Afghan refugees have served our nation and now find themselves fleeing for their lives and journeying to a strange and unfamiliar new land. Please show them that we welcome them, are grateful for their service, and will help ease their journey.
Kenn Speicher is a co-founder of NOVA Friends of Refugees, a free interfaith network of more than a thousand volunteers and allies who welcome, assist, and advocate for refugees and other forced migrants. NFOR began as an initiative of members from Saint Georges Episcopal Church and Mount Olivet UMC in Arlington. Kenn is the Peace & Non-Violence Chair of the VAUMC Board of Church and Society and Mission Coordinator for the Alexandria-Arlington Bi-District. You can request to join the NFOR mailing list for regular updates, announcements, and information.