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.