Because You Can Make a Difference

Posted by Kaylee K on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 Under: Response
When people hear that we moved to Philly to foster refugee kids they are generally pretty blown away. I truly appreciate this, as we know it is not common to pick up and move in order to take in someone else’s kids. But, honestly, what seems to impact folks is the heart behind our decision. That’s the part we see folks connect with as many quickly want to know how they too can help. So, here’s a not so big secret….no one has to move in order to help these kiddos who’ve lost family, home, cultural connections, schooling, friends, and more. We are grateful that we were in a life stage where we could take this step. But, there are things you can do right now to share love and hope with a young displaced person in your community or elsewhere in our country.

I thought it might be helpful to compile some ideas. Here are 10 ways to help that involve varying levels of commitment. See what strikes a chord with you and then set out to do it. You’ll be shocked at how even a small step makes you feel empowered to make a difference. Such a refreshing experience in a world where polarizing politics and dramatic news coverage often leave us feeling polarized. We each do make a difference. What will your impact be?

  1. Share some love: Send a Valentine’s Day card to an immigrant in a detention center or waiting at the border. Visit the Welcome. campaign site to share a lil’ love this Valentine’s Day. You can fill one out online or print and mail yourself. This is a great project to involve kiddos in too.
  2. Volunteer to teach ESL in your community – check in with your local library as they likely have programs or Google the literacy center in your area.
  3. Volunteer to mentor at a nearby school – check in with the ESL teachers as those we’ve met truly appreciate the support in helping newly arrived students learn English, which can be a huge hurdle to overcome in their learning.
  4. Connect: Check out the Refugee Highway Partnership North America website to find a refugee services organization near you and volunteer some time or find out what types of material donations they need.
  5. Host a fundraiser: Find an organization serving refugee kids that you believe in and put together a fund raiser. The only way they can do the work they do is if they have funding, so sometimes donations are an amazing way to help!
  6. Create a dialogue: Check out this beautiful film, Eyes to See, about 8 women who journeyed to the border to see what is happening, where God is at work, and how we might love the people going through awful experiences even if we can’t change the logistics of their situation. Then organize a group of friends, community group or church group to watch and discuss (there is a discussion guide provided by the film producers). Full materials available on this Welcome. campaign site.
  7. Advocate: There is a lot of misinformation out there. Educate yourself on the real situation for these kids and then spread the word. Write to your legislators to express how you feel immigration policies need to be reformed. Get involved in the campaign of a candidate you feel cares about issues impacting children, immigrants and the marginalized. Change the conversation on your social media platform of choice. Check out our news page for some recent articles and videos.
  8. Foster: Do you have a space in your home and your family for a refugee kiddo? The foster program exists in more than a dozen cities in the US so you could find the opportunity to welcome a child who is far from home and help him/her to adjust to life in the US. Check out the Office of Refugee Resettlement site to learn more and find programs in your area.
  9. Visit an incarcerated asylum-seeking youth: If children remain in shelters (meaning they were not placed with family in the US or into foster care) during their asylum process, they are moved into adult detention centers on their 18th birthday. In many states this is the equivalent of the county jail. These youth are in a legal process of seeking asylum and being incarcerated is demoralizing. You can be a ray of sunshine by visiting them and showing them they are not forgotten. Check out this website to see if this program exists in your area. If not, Google it and see if another organization is overseeing visitation programs near you.
  10. Pray: This is not just an act for when we’re too busy to get involved or our budgets don’t enable us to make donations. Prayer is a powerful tool given to us by God to partner with Him in the work He is doing in our world. Learn about the situation for these kids, learn about those who are making laws that impact them, learn about the folks who are caring for them in shelters or in foster homes and then pray for each child, each lawmaker, each care giver. There are also resources on our website for prayer individually and as a community activity. 

In : Response 

Tags: volunteer  donate  resources  "unaccompanied minors"  advocacy 

Blog Authors

John and Kaylee Kolditz Kaylee founded Refugee Connect in 2008. John joined the work in 2011 as we investigated the refugee situation in Europe. But our faith and cross-cultural journeys have been a work-in-progress for many years. Much of this blog reflects that. ************************************************ We met in Austin, TX, while volunteering at a serving event at Gateway Church and have been married since 2002. Marriage, parenting and ministry all require a great deal of intentionality, humility and true reliance on God for strength, wisdom, and grace. It is a journey we are grateful to be on together. Ultimately, what matters to us is building into meaningful relationships in ways that, to the best of our ability and by God's grace, demonstrate the love and hope Jesus freely offers to us all. ************************************************ We bring both business and ministry backgrounds into our current work. John started a business in his 20's and helped build several other businesses. He has also served with churches in a variety of roles including as an assistant pastor, director of community development, and missions board member. Kaylee left her marketing career to become the global missions director for our home church in Austin, TX, then founded a local refugee ministry, and became TEFL certified (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in order to prepare for our work overseas. We have led short-term teams domestically and internationally, and served with a variety of cross-cultural ministries. In 2008, we sensed a call to build into the church in Europe, which was also around the time when God broke Kaylee’s heart for refugees. Since then, God has continued to weave together this heart for refugees, desire to serve alongside the church, and focus on His call to Europe.

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