Refugee issues often become political issues. For this reason, it is tremendously important that those with strong voices and networks speak out on behalf of the voiceless. There are many ways to advocate, including sharing accurate information with friends and loved ones, writing letters to the editor of your local newspapers, contacting legislators, and signing petitions.
To stay on top of the issues, you can follow local, national, and international agencies that serve and advocate for refugees. International organizations like the UN Refugee Agency, the International Rescue Committee, HIAS, and the Jesuit Refugee Service are just a few examples of international organizations that support refugees. The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition works to advocate and lobby for refugees across the state. Follow your local refugee serving agencies to find out when they need your voice or your vote.
Your time and skills are some of the greatest assets you can contribute to help a refugee feel at home. There are regularly short- and long-term volunteer opportunities at refugee-serving agencies. You can volunteer as a mentor for refugee youth, be a conversation partner for clients learning English, help move furniture for families settling into their new homes, tend a community garden, and so much more! Contact your local resettlement agency to see what volunteer opportunities are available or to offer your skills and services.
Donate new or gently used items to a refugee serving organization, or organize a group of friends or coworkers to prepare a welcome kit. Most organizations have lists of needed items on their websites or readily available with a phone call or email. When considering what to give, think about the things in your home you or your children use every day: furniture items for every room in the home, kitchen essentials, bed and bath textiles, cleaning supplies, toiletries, school supplies, toys, and baby necessities.
You can find a list of organizations receiving funding from the Tennessee Office for Refugees on the Meet Our Partners page; while they receive funding from our office, those funds are not intended to cover all the organization’s expenses.
Follow Tennessee Office for Refugees on social media and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date about the latest news in resettlement.
Connect with other refugee-serving agencies to see how you can advocate, volunteer, and give in your community.