As we announced in our last update, the Westfield Fun Club, working with the International Rescue Committee, has asked us to “adopt” some refugee families in need of food and household essentials for the summer. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to commit to supporting three food-insecure families, at a cost of about $100 a week for eight weeks. Each of the families is headed by a single mom, and has one or two children.
The Westfield Fun Club, with whom we have been collaborating over the past few months to deliver food and other essential household items to over 100 refugee families in the Elizabeth area during the pandemic, is winding down their Emergency Food Initiative. (See the email) The Fun Club happily reports that many of the families no longer need the emergency supplies since they have returned to work and/or have seen an increase in SNAP benefits.
However, there are still roughly a dozen refugee and asylum-seeking households – mostly senior citizens – who need our continued assistance. The Fun Club is arranging for these families to be “adopted” by other families or groups who can provide them with weekly deliveries of food and household items.
We received an email from the Westfield Fun Club regarding their continuing efforts to assist refugee families in the Elizabeth area (including the families we have been assisting) during the coronavirus pandemic. As you can imagine, the Fun Club has been inundated with requests for additional assistance, and is now helping 55 families, up from about 20 just two weeks ago. We have found that the Fun Club offers us many valuable ways to help the refugee families that we would not have on our own. The latest example is that they are making regular deliveries of essential food and supplies to the families during this crisis period.
We have reached out to the refugee families that we have been assisting during the past three years to find out how they are faring in the coronavirus crisis. Many have had severe setbacks to what had previously been a slow but steady assimilation to their new lives in the United States. A number of the men who had jobs as drivers have lost those jobs; one who had a steady job for three years delivering for a restaurant was let go because he had a seasonal cough. Some of the schoolchildren who had depended on the schools for breakfast are now going without that meal.
Here are two exciting developments —
- We are teaming up with two wonderful organizations — Laptop UpCycle and the Westfield Fun Club — to bring recycled laptops to 10 refugee children in Elizabeth. Laptop UpCycle is a Montclair group that is “committed to obtaining, refreshing, and distributing technology to students who need the tools to succeed in school” and has already delivered over 400 laptops to needy students in Montclair. We have introduced Laptop UpCycle to the refugee families through the Fun Club, which runs a Saturday morning program at Temple Emanu-El in Westfield for refugee families in Elizabeth. The Fun Club program includes ESL, job training, resume building, IEP assistance, citizenship test prep, and more for adults, and homework help, arts and crafts, music, karate, acting, games, lego, SAT prep, college application assistance, and more for the children and teens. Laptop UpCycle will be delivering the laptops to the 10 students at a Fun Club session in mid-November.
We will be visiting the refugee families in Elizabeth on Monday and would like to bring them as many needed items as possible at that time. We’ve compiled the requested items on the following list: http://signup.com/go/PGuRfLE. If you can possibly donate any items, please sign up online and drop off the items in the box in Shomrei’s lobby by October 28 if you possibly can.
Here are the important announcements for this week:
We are excited to announce that we are now assisting a sixth family in Elizabeth! Our summer camp fundraising resulted in 8 children attending two-week sessions at the YMCAs in Wayne and Elizabeth. We are collecting school supplies for the families we are assisting. On Sept 30, we will be hosting a luncheon in the Sukkah catered by Syrian refugee families.
- Our fundraising to help send local refugee children to summer day camp has been a major success! Including the very generous matching grant provided by one of our member-families, we have raised a total of $2,866 so far. The funds are being used to send seven children from two families in Paterson to the Wayne Y and to send one child from the families that we are supporting in Elizabeth to the Y camp in Union. All of the children will be enjoying two weeks of day camp thanks to our group’s fundraising efforts. (See photos of Kresten, below, waiting for her first day of camp to start yesterday.) Any funds in excess of those needed for camp will be used for the general welfare of the refugee families.
Three important updates since last week:
Good News #1: One of our member-families has offered to match — DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR — the first $1,500 that is donated to our campaign to help send recently resettled refugee children to summer camp! So, we now need to raise only $1,500 to meet our goal of $3,000! The funds will be used to send refugee children to summer camp at the Wayne Y and Elizabeth Y in August for one or two weeks (depending on the total funds that we raise) .
If you can, please contribute. Any amount would be appreciated. The camp sessions are just around the corner and we need to make payment to the Y by July 25, so time is of the essence.
Summer is here, but the pace of our activities hasn’t slowed.
We have an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the lives of a number of refugee children this summer! GERA (Global Emergency Response and Assistance), a community NGO helping many refugee families in the Paterson/Passaic area, is trying to send 13 refugee children to summer camp at the Wayne Y for two weeks in August. GERA is negotiating a discount for the children, but the total cost for all the children is still likely to be about $3,400, of which they’ve raised about half. (The cost per child for the two weeks ranges from $302-$672, depending on the child’s age.) We are also exploring the possibility of helping to send some children in our refugee families in Elizabeth to summer camp at their local Y, which will probably cost a total of between $500 and $1,000.
So, we’ve set a total goal of $3,000 to help ensure that these children have a fun place to go this summer, to meet new friends, learn a little English, and build self-esteem and confidence in their new country. Continue reading