Looking for a way to reach out to our newest neighbors? IM always needs volunteers to welcome our newly arrived refugees to Houston. (Read a refugee story here or here.) There are many ways you can get involved and help refugees make Houston home.
Teaching and Learning
First of all, help is always needed in our cultural orientation classes that occur on Thursday and Friday mornings at IM in Midtown. These meetings serve as intensive orientation for our new arrivals. At cultural orientation, you will aid in explaining the ins and outs of Houston life – we discuss everything from the city’s geography to its public transportation system. You might also assist someone with his/her job search – conducting a mock interview or helping to edit a resume!
Interested in helping someone learn English? Many of our newly arrived refugees have limited English abilities yet are eager to learn. Becoming an English tutor is a great way to help refugees become comfortable in their new culture, and no teaching experience is required. Tutoring occurs on weekday mornings or evenings at IM or at our clients’ apartments.
Welcoming our refugees also means making sure they are comfortable and cared for in their new homes. Apartment setup takes place a day or two before arrival in Houston and includes shopping for all staple household items needed – everything from shower curtains and dishes to food! All shopping will be done with an IM staff member using IM’s credit cards.
Are you part of an established community, religious, professional, or social group? If so you could conduct a drive to gather essential household items, clothing items, and/or furniture to be used in a refugee’s new apartment. Each and every item is important, especially considering that many of our refugees arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Welcoming New Friends
The first American faces a newly arrived family will see are those who greet them at the airport. Airport pickups occur with an IM caseworker during the week, and involve welcoming the family, gathering luggage, and transporting the family to their new home. Once there, you will assist in explaining the various aspects of the apartment (stove, door locks, or microwave, for example). This is usually a two-hour time commitment.
If you love playing tour guide around our vibrant city, then being a cultural guide is for you. A cultural guide takes a family around the city to sightsee. This might mean introducing them to their new neighborhood (finding the nearest library and pharmacy, for example), or it might mean taking in something of cultural interest around the city. Examples include a trip to a museum, to the zoo, or to a concert. These excursions are typically done on weekends, and cultural guides must have a valid driver’s license and reliable transportation.
Interested in being a part of the entire process? Refugee co-sponsorships can be tailored to your group’s specifications – you can be as involved with the resettlement process as you’d like. This is an excellent opportunity for small groups or families to help those most in need in our Houston community.
If any of these sound like a good fit for you and your family or group, please contact Lizeth Zavala at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-533-4998. We look forward to welcoming our refugees with you!