There’s a lot to report and a couple of important ways you can help…
- We have begun two types of collaboration with the Westfield Fun Club to help them serve the many Afghan families now arriving in the Elizabeth area.
- The Fun Club has been providing food supplies to the new families during the period between their arrival in Elizabeth and when their government benefits kick in. It’s usually for about a three weeks, but recently the lag has gotten longer as the flow of refugees has increased and the bureaucracy has gotten bogged down. The cost of supplying a family with an initial food supply is typically between $200 and $250; subsequent weekly replenishment costs are about $150-$175. The Fun Club has been getting a financial sponsor for each family, each week, but their list of sponsors is dwindling. We have now become the sponsor for one family, supplying food for up to four weeks. We will be ordering each week’s food supply online and will have it delivered directly to the family. (attached is a sample of a typical initial week’s food shopping list, which comes to a cost of $201.)
- The Fun Club also regularly provides to many families household goods (e.g., soap, shampoo, tissues, paper towels, cleaning materials, sponges, etc.) that they cannot use their government benefits to pay for. We have agreed to help ease the financial burden on the Fun Club by purchasing up to $200 a week of those supplies for about four or five weeks. We will be buying the items online, in bulk where possible, and will have them delivered to the Fun Club to be distributed to the families.
- As noted in an earlier email, we are helping in the resettlement of an Afghan family consisting of two brothers, ages 23 and 14. We were introduced to the family by Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP-NJ), a volunteer community group, and an experienced volunteer from that group is leading Shomrei’s team (Shirley, Audrey, Nick, Andy, Judith, and Rabbi Greenstein) in providing assistance. So far, we have helped in obtaining a cell phone for the family, taken them around their neighborhood in Elizabeth, assisted them in getting identification papers, and have set up tutoring in English and Math for the 14-year-old. For now, we are keeping their names and more details about their identities confidential to protect their privacy and the safety of their family, from whom they’ve been separated.
The two brothers still need winter clothes (and if possible, some soccer clothes). If you’d like to help, you can purchase items on this Amazon Wish List. (As a delivery address, please choose Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Refugee Assistance Group, 67 Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042.) Alternatively, if you have any of the items on our SignUpGenius List (NEW or GENTLY USED, ONLY, PLEASE), please check them off on the list and drop them in the box in the synagogue lobby. We will be delivering all the donated clothing to the family by November 30th.
- A challenge grant — We have on hand approximately $3,000 from prior generous donations by members of our group and other donors. We expect to use about $2,000 on our current collaborative initiatives with the Fun Club, and will use the remaining funds to support our “adopted” family in Elizabeth as needed. To enable us to replenish our funds so that we can continue helping refugee families beyond these current initiatives, one of our group’s families has contributed $1,800 as a challenge grant. Our challenge now is to raise at least another $1,800 from the rest of our members. If you would like to help us meet that challenge, you can make a contribution online to Shomrei’s Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, Refugee Assistance, or by check made out to “Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund” and sent to Congregation Shomrei Emunah, 67 Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042, designating “Refugee Assistance” in the check’s memo line.
- Good news! The Syrian refugee family that was dislocated by the Elizabeth floods resulting from Hurricane Ida is finally being relocated this week by FEMA to a new apartment in Rahway. The family has been housed temporarily in hotels since the storm. We don’t yet know their needs as they restock their new apartment, so stay tuned!
- Just a reminder that our efforts have an impact…
When we first met Kresten, she was about two years old, newly arrived from Syria (via Jordan). We are happy to report that she is now a thriving, high-achieving second grader in the Elizabeth Public Schools (and the proud translator-in-chief for her family). We know that her success, and that of others like her, is due mostly to her family’s dogged determination and resourcefulness, but we’d like to think that perhaps our efforts have contributed in some small way.
Thank you for your continued support and generosity.
Judith, Mike, and Andy