View this email in your browser  |  Donate Now

Creating Home

The Power of a Home Team

Also This Month | September 2022

Celebrating Marriage in the U.S.
An Outpouring of Support for Afghans
Sponsor Ukraine Families! - Info Session
Afghan Endings Mean Ukraine Beginnings

Written by Jeff Yim, MA, HFR's Home Team Manager

Home Team 60’s midyear team meeting was a couple weekends ago. Home Team 60 is from Presbyterian Church of the Master in Mission Viejo, California in partnership with the resettlement agency International Rescue Committee in LA and Afghan Refugee Relief. It was a potluck dinner (Home Team 60 and potluck pictures above). The food and drink were absolutely delicious! And this naturally led to a warm yet honest conversation about how each team member is doing and what we’re each learning as we support an Afghan family. There is just something about the power of a team.

Flashback to exactly one year ago, August 15, 2021, Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, was abruptly captured by the Taliban as the United States military withdrew from the county. People in the U.S. watched the news in shock as thousands upon thousands of Afghan allies of the U.S. were forced to flee from the Taliban and immediately leave their country.

After this massive evacuation, the news began to report that thousands of Afghans had been "resettled" in the U.S. But being evacuated or relocated to the U.S. is not the same as being resettled in the U.S. Real resettlement is a process, a journey; it’s not an event. And this is where Home for Refugees steps in. Our Home Teams consisting of welcoming and generous volunteers walk alongside refugee families for a full 12 months and together do the actual hard work of resettlement.

As with our own personal journeys, there are inevitably some highlights and challenges that teams and families face over the course of the 12 months. By way of making sure each team member feels heard, supported, and encouraged during this time, we intentionally pause for a special midyear team meeting where we together reflect on the past six months and look ahead at how to flourish in the next six months.

It’s in a team that we celebrate accomplishments and overcome challenges in ways that are just beyond what an individual can do. I was really grateful that night to hear different team members chime in with their valuable thoughts. We all nodded around the table as Brian Wright-Bushman, one of the team members, commented that “each worker in social services is wonderful but the system as a whole is bureaucratic and broken.” We all laughed so hard at how true it was when another team member Laila Malek said, “It’s a challenge to properly install that infant car seat so I can give the family rides.” And we were all moved at team member Heidi Luna’s recounting of a conversation where the family said, “While getting established in America has been hard, at least we feel safe and have security here. No more constant looking in the rear-view mirror in fear.”

I know the team came in tired, but left refreshed and ready for the next six months together. And I left the meeting very grateful for this team, to know the family, and to be part of something deeply good that is bigger than myself. The next day I wrote our executive director Minda Schweizer to tell her that I just wanted to linger in that special moment all night long.

Celebrating Marriage in the U.S.

We love special moments with our families as they create their new home here. One of our Muslim families from Afghanistan, who was evacuated when Kabul fell, celebrated a wedding recently. They had an imam from the nearby mosque perform a beautiful ceremony, and all the guests enjoyed delicious Afghan food from a local restaurant. In attendance were friends and family, as well as HFR coach Lynne Abraham-Yadlin and volunteers from our Home Team 54 from Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees who have been partnering with them in  their resettlement for the past eight months. Everyone looked fabulous, the food was delicious, and the ceremony was very moving.

 An Outpouring of Support for Afghans

For years, Nancy Van Maren and her community in Billings were looking for a way to support refugees in their city. To their dismay, Billings had no resettlement agencies, and hardly any resettlement efforts going on at the time, so receiving a family wasn't possible. Because of that, their desire to support newcomers was put on the back burner... that is, until the launch of the Sponsor Circles Program. The Sponsor Circle Program makes it possible for a group of volunteers from a community to resettle a refugee directly outside of the traditional process of the U.S. refugee resettlement process through the U.S. Department of State.

Upon hearing they could directly resettle an Afghan family, Nancy and her community group filled out an application and they were shortly matched with a family. As they began preparing, they were utterly shocked at the outpouring of support from their community. Donations kept coming in, and to this day, have not stopped. Volunteers kept putting their hand up. They were able to receive their first family and welcome them into a home fully paid for. Nancy and the other team members were completely in awe watching their community unite across ideological divides to welcome these newcomers.

A few months later they welcomed a second family. And just two weeks ago, they welcomed their third. As a result of their work, news began to spread throughout Montana, all the way to the Governor’s mansion. The Gianforte Family heard about their efforts and decided to donate thousands from their charity. The impact of the Sponsor Circle Program has been felt from neighborhoods in Billings all the way to the governor's mansion. All of this because Nancy and her community were given the support and the opportunity to welcome. 

 Afghan Endings Mean Ukraine Beginnings

Pictured above are the states where we coached 60 Afghan Sponsor Circles

Written by Parker Newburn, HFR's Sponsor Circle Coordinator

The last flight carrying Afghan evacuees as part of the effort of the U.S. Department of State's Operation Allies Welcome program arrived this week at the National Civilian Center in Leesburg, Virginia. In addition to partnering with Resettlement Agencies in Southern California in helping resettle the evacuated Afghans, HFR was asked to be involved with resettlement through the national program Sponsor Circles for Afghans. As the Operation Allies Welcome Program comes to an end, our Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans will as well. Any Afghan Humanitarian Parolees who are approved for entry into the U.S. will travel through normal refugee resettlement routes moving forward. Here are some numbers from the past year:
  1. HFR coached 30 Home Teams in Southern California to welcome the Afghan evacuees in partnership with LA and Orange County resettlement agencies, refugee organizations, and faith and community groups since August 2021.
  2. Those 30 Home Teams represent 150 Afghan newcomers (the average of 5 people per family) welcomed since August 2021 in Southern California in essential partnership with Interfaith Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS), International Rescue Committee in LA, International Institute of LA (IILA), Uplift Charity, Afghan Refugee Relief, and Saddleback Church.
  3. HFR coached 60 Sponsor Circles to welcome the Afghan evacuees in 20 different states.
  4. Those 60 Sponsor Circles represent 250 Afghan newcomers since December 2021 through Sponsor Circles. See initial announcement last fall from the U.S. State Department > Launch of the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans.
  5. For a total of 90 teams coached by HFR to welcome 400 evacuated Afghan newcomers!
While we are proud of our work with Afghans, there is still much to do. The end of the Afghan program means the beginning of the Sponsor Circle Program for Ukrainians. HFR is already working to welcome ten Ukrainian family units across the U.S. Additionally, our goal is to mobilize 100 sponsors to bring over 100 Ukrainian families by the end of this year. Tens of thousands of Ukraine citizens are waiting to enter the U.S. to flee from war. With all of our help, we can give them a warm reception of welcome.

We will be hosting our virtual Ukraine Sponsor Info Session coming up on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.

 Sponsor Ukraine Families! - Info Session

Interested in learning about what it means to sponsor a Ukrainian? RSVP to our virtual Ukraine Sponsor Info Session coming up on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. RSVP today by emailing
Donate Now
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
LinkedIn LinkedIn
Copyright © 2022 Home for Refugees USA, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp