Refugee Assistant Group Update 10/31/19

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Hayan and Rabbi Greenstein

Here are two exciting developments —

  1. 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.

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Two Ways to Help Local Refugees

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From Andy Silver:

We are organizing a Back-to-School Supplies Drive for the children in the refugee families whom we have been assisting. We need your help!

There are currently 18 school-age children, ranging in age from 4 to 16, in six of “our” families. The families have very little discretionary income to spend on school supplies; our goal is to help enable the children to have what they need to start the school year successfully.

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Nick Levitin: This Year’s Honoree in Three Acts

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For Nick Levitin, the true meaning of life lies in service—to serve people and God. His passion for people and his commitment to service are the bookends of his journey, and they created the groundwork on which he served. As a kid growing up on Long Island in a secular family with no Jewish education, serving as President of not one but two synagogues was never part of his childhood game plan. He did not join a synagogue until he was 39. But first, he would follow his dreams onto the stage. Continue reading

Refugee Assistance Group Update — October 25, 2018

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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.

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Know Compassion

familyAfter each two-hour shift I spent with the families we hosted through IHN, I walked out of Shomrei feeling humbled, grateful, and sad. These emotions inspired the following poem:

Know Compassion

Even just a little
because we have health
because we have family
because we have security
and we know
as we move
through our day
when a child you love
needs tender care,
someone is there
to offer hugs and love
and safety
and more love.

Know compassion
without judgement
because you never know
when you may need
shelter, clothing, food
because you answered
yes when no called
or you moved east
when west asked
or you accepted
charity masked as
strategy; then
tragedy befell
a family.

Know compassion
maybe even more
because we have
because we eat
because we sleep
and we know
tomorrow
when we rise
inside four walls
beneath a roof
sipping hot or cold
coffee or tea
we are alive
we are safe.

 

image:  “Family” © IsaacVakeroKoner altered and used with permission via Creative Commons License

Shomrei Assisting a Sixth Family

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, August 10 Update

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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.

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Summer Camp Fundraiser a Huge Success!

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, July 31 Update
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We have a number of important items this week:

  • 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.

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Making a Difference

Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group, July 19 Update

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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.

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Make a Difference – Shomrei Refugee Assistance Group

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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

Audrey Levitin: Families Belong Together

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image courtesy of ACLU

Around the time when news about the crisis on the border emerged, I was on my morning train into the City. It was crowded and coming up the aisle was a young mother and a grandmother, struggling with a stroller and a toddler. They were Spanish speaking. The woman sitting next to me offered the mom her seat and she and the toddler sat next to me. The boy sat on his mother’s lap and I was able to take him in. He was about 2 years old, with chubby cheeks, big brown eyes and at the age where everything about him is adorable. He was pointing out the window with great enthusiasm at everything we passed. The other commuters and I looked up from our phones and we shared a few minutes of pleasure watching this child’s innocent delight at simply being on the train.

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