One of the core missions of LexRAP has been to help others do what we do. We believe that community resettlement is the best way to give refugees their best start in America. What is community resettlement? One of our hosts, Donna Vaillancourt, put it best, “We have traditionally resettled refugees in communities they can afford like Lynn and Lowell but what we should do is resettle them in communities that can afford to support them.” If each town took in one family and surrounded that family with support, not only would the children and adults have the best opportunity to thrive, the town, in return, would be enriched. Imagine a family with four children in school (as was the case when Donna and her husband Sean Kavanagh took in a family), those four children brought a completely different life experience to their classmates. Five years later, people from the tiny town of Carlisle are still in touch with the family, though the family moved next door to Concord. The family is doing well and are now all US Citizens.
In an effort to share our experience and lessons learned, LexRAP has written a resource guide called “Hand in Hand, A Guide to Working With New Arrivals”. We have put this guide on our website to be downloaded by any and all who might find it useful. (link here) The extensive effort was led by Elizabeth Ellen, a LexRAP Board member and LICSW who has been heavily involved with LexRAP from nearly the beginning. The Community Endowment of Lexington provided some funding for the project. The list of contributors is too long to list here. The guide is filled with useful information.
As we write this newsletter and with the resource guide in our pocket (not really – it is too big!) last weekend, LexRAP volunteers worked with a group in Medford to get ready to welcome an extended family of 10 from Afghanistan. The group, the UU Church, has temporary housing for the family. The Medford team along with a LexRAP team sprang into action to find sufficient beds, linens, cooking utensils and other essentials. The families are expected to arrive in Massachusetts this week. Needless to say, we are eager to meet them! We anticipate that we will be calling on a host of volunteers to assist the families get settled.
The core group in Medford has met with LexRAP over the last several weeks, asking questions and learning from LexRAP leaders. This all came about because a member of this family had studied at Tufts University and contacted them and Tufts got in touch with Ascentria and Ascentria called LexRAP and asked if we might have some ideas on how to help this family. LexRAP called the church in Medford and learned that they had recently been discussing how they could get involved and help refugees. The mentoring we have started with the Medford UU Church and will continue to offer them is an excellent use of our experience, expertise and now our excellent resource guide.
And then from here….use the rest of the last newsletter below