The WORLD is at our Doorstep!
When a refugee family arrives in Knoxville, they usually arrive with, quite literally, very little besides the clothes on their backs. They have no license to drive, let alone a car, which makes transportation, along with learning English, their number one needs. Bridge Refugee Services, located here in Knoxville and Chattanooga, is the agency that facilitates their arrival. (For more information on that process, read more here.)
The immediate physical needs are one thing, but the most important help they need is friendship - a relationship with someone to answer questions in a confusing new society, someone who will invite them to their home for dinner (and come to theirs), someone to lean on (but not financially) when it is all too overwhelming, someone to offer guidance when it is needed.
How can you help?
- Simply taking them to appointments (doctor, social security, etc.) is a great investment of your time, allowing you to get to know the individuals as well as providing a valuable service.
- Tutor adults and/or children in English, and please note - if you speak English, you can do this.
Below are some volunteer opportunities for individuals, families or small groups:
- Volunteer in the Summer ESL Camp.
- Teach English or assist the teacher and build relationships with internationals on Thursday mornings and/or evenings at Cedar Springs ESL.
- Welcome them at the airport and provide a welcoming dinner for them.
- Help refugees with grocery shopping.
- Provide transportation to church and important appointments including: health screenings & immunizations; Social Security cards; Dept. of Human Services; enrolling refugee kids in schools and adults in community English Classes.
- Join a team who take turns driving our church bus once a month on Sunday mornings to help refugees hear God’s word.
- Join a team of bus drivers on Thursday nights providing transportation for refugees to attend ESL at CSPC.
- Join some men in the church who would like to connect with refugee men for periodic coffee and conversation.
- Join some women in the church who would like to connect with refugee women for periodic crafts, coffee and conversation.
- Connect one-on-one with refugee adults and/or children for weekly tutoring and friendship.
- Show hospitality to refugees by having them over for dinner at your home.
- “Adopt” a refugee family for Christmas along with your small group or Sunday School class.
- Participate in our Refugee Thanksgiving Celebration individually or along with your group in November.
- Include refugees in your family outings, such as to parks and movies.
- If you are an Engineer, Nurse, Physician, IT Specialist, Teacher, or a member of the Business community, consider joining a team of mentors from the church to come alongside refugee/immigrant professionals and help them find jobs in their fields.
- Help refugees find any entry level jobs.
- Help refugees pass their driving tests and learn how to drive.
- Help connect refugees with short term skill training opportunities.
- Help refugees open bank accounts and teach them how to write a check, understand credit cards, finances, budgeting, tax returns and how to make their meager resources stretch.
- Engage refugees in a spiritual discipleship to help them become authentic followers of Christ.
- Help us train and equip volunteers in our church for the work of the ministry.
- Donate your used furniture/household supplies and set up an apartment for new arrivals.