Our flagship program, Bridge Builders, matches passionate volunteers with individual families based on alignment of needs and skills/expertise. Volunteers serve
as advocates, working alongside families to address immediate points of need while charting out holistic pathways toward long-term goals. Volunteers and families alike describe these long term relationships as the most transformative aspect of the program.
Chronic disengagement with refugee communities has led to significant social isolation, and due to language barriers, unfamiliarity with US systems, and past trauma, public life can feel like a hostile environment. We see the powerful relationships formed between families and volunteers not only as a means of addressing urgent needs, but the tender and potent environment in which connection, trust, and care can be reconstituted.
To date, we have matched 90+ volunteers with over 180 individuals, and receive request from new families for volunteers weekly.
Youth Education Empowerment
Educational achievement is one of the most important preconditions of economic and social welfare. Schools are typically incapable of meeting the unique needs of refugee students, making culturally-informed and individualized support to help them achieve their educational goals is critical. This program is designed to be student-led--generating opportunities for leadership development, collective decision making, strategic planning, and community advocacy-- and is made up of 40+ students across 3 local high schools. Clubs meet weekly to identify pressing academic needs and to develop low-cost/high-impact solutions.
Through a unique partnership with Farmer Foodshare, local farmers donate fresh, local, and organic produce to refugee families facing food insecurity. In 2016 alone, over 8,000 lbs of fresh, local produce has fed 130+ refugee individuals each week. Families and organization staff gather regularly for a community potluck, share recipes and cooking tips, and strengthen the ties between the local food system and refugee communities.