Refugees often restart their lives from scratch in order to recover everything they have lost, from human dignity to their countries, communities, homes, jobs, friends, and even families.
They have fled their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence and have resettled in the United States of America through The Department of Homeland Security.
They are now at our doorstep and in desperate need of permanent housing, friendship, guidance, and coaching.
Will you be involved?
A refugee is a person who is residing outside the country of his or her origin due to fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
In the Family Refugee Services program, we are committed to meeting refugees at their point of need and help them to become self-sufficient, productive citizens in their new communities. We provide refugee families with rental assistance, case management, much-needed furniture and food.
But our most important service to the families we serve is provided through mentors like you. Volunteers like you from our local community come alongside these families to help with basic needs, community orientation, employment skills, financial skills (bilingual assistance if necessary), social and emotional support, and more.
“In Afghanistan, I served with the US Army. We were able to connect with a few Afghan families in Denver but we are very grateful to be part of the refugee family mentoring program at Denver Rescue Mission and get connected with American friends who will help me and my family to navigate through the process of adjusting in our new home, USA.”Nisar (Originally from Afghanistan. In March 2015, he moved to the USA with his wife and 4 children from Afghanistan).
“These past five years we had mainly been connected with our own ethnic community and were not able to go beyond that. We were, also, impacted greatly by the shutdown and were at high risk of experiencing homelessness. With help from Denver Rescue Mission we were able to maintain our housing. Through the mentoring program, our family now has a chance to learn more about life in USA and better chances of becoming self-sustainable. Our family was also able to secure a stable source of income and are on our way to financial stability.”Bwivuge (Originally from Dem. Rep. of Congo. In September 2015, she moved to the USA with her son and two parents from a refugee camp in Africa).
You can positively impact refugees and international immigrants by building strong bond and friendship as you walk alongside them in these ways:
Although each family receives minimal support from the government for the first four months after arrival, those months come and go quickly. Soon, the refugee family will have to be able to support themselves financially, and they cannot do that without finding work.
Denver Rescue Mission and mentors will work together to stress to the family the importance of getting and keeping a job. Depending on the circumstances, the Mission and mentors may also help the family find and apply for a job.
For many refugees, the money coming in from the government and then from their job will be the first steady source of income they’ve ever had. It is important to help them learn the necessity of wise spending and budgeting what little money they do have.
In collaboration with the Mission, mentors will assist the family in understanding the need for budgeting, with paying their rent being a top priority.
The Mission will provide a financial literacy handbook for mentor teams and additional resources for the family’s financial success. Mentors will use their interactions and the family’s budget sheet to become familiar with the family’s financial situation, helping them manage their budget including opening bank accounts if they haven’t done so. They can also encourage the family to make wise financial decisions, especially if those decisions will potentially have negative consequences.
Learning and knowing English is certainly a priority for the refugee families that we work with. The more they improve their English skills, the better they will be able to find work and navigate society on their own. The Mission and mentors partner together to help families meet this goal:
What the Mission Does:
What the Mentor Team Does:
One of the most important functions of the mentor team is not only developing a relationship with the family, but also showing how culture and society work in the United States. By helping them to get out of the house and have fun, you’ll help the family learn and understand the best our culture has to offer, which helps the family fit in with their new community. Through your friendship, you can also help the family work through cultural differences they may experience. Community integration is achieved through:
Mentoring a family in Family Refugee Services is rewarding, and best of all, it doesn’t take a large time commitment.
Each mentor teams works with their family for about six months. We ask mentors to have at least one meeting a month and/or spend at least four to six hours per month with the family. Mentors can communicate with a family in-person (following COVID-19 safety guidelines), by phone, virtually online, by text, or by email.
In view of social distancing adjustments with COVID we ask mentoring and mentee communication to be as follows: