With so much attention on global migration crises, refugee serving organizations have experienced an uptick in interest from potential volunteers and donors. Since the attacks in Paris we at TOR have heard from people across the state asking how they can help. A few of us who work with and for refugees put this short list of suggestions together:
Resettlement and refugee service agencies are always looking for innovative ways to best serve their clients. We all have skills, from graphic design to searching through craigslist, that are invaluable to refugee integration. If you want to see how your skill or passion fits in with an organization, email an agency to see how you can be plugged in. Additionally, dedicated volunteers are always in high demand to teach ESL or befriend a newly arrived family.
2) Support existing programs
Dig through agencies’ websites to find a need that speaks to you. Maybe you’ll choose to donate welcome packages for newly arrived refugee families, or you’ll become a resume tutor and help a highly educated refugee avoid under-employment.
3) Use your voice
Tennessee legislators listen to their constituents; your voice matters. Do two things: follow the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) to stay up to date on proposed legislation and call or email your representatives today!
4) Leverage your networks
Encourage your musician friends to host a fundraising concert, or suggest that your faith group hold a coat drive. Choose to hold your next event at one of the many outstanding New American-owned restaurants in town. Be sure to share facts from reputable sources like the Tennessee Office for Refugees and Migration Policy Institute along the way.
5) Be a Tennessean
We are the volunteer state after all. We pull together in times of crisis and meet each other’s needs. Nashville has been called the nation’s friendliest city, and we’ve openly welcomed refugees for decades. Now is the time to uphold these values.
Please visit Meet Our Partners page to connect with a refugee serving agency. This list is not exhaustive. There are many nonprofits that work tirelessly to serve refugees. Get connected with one in your community and see how you can fit in.