This quote from Margaret Mead is indeed aspirational, but not for St. Leo Parish. When parishioner Colleen Mulligan suggested that St. Leo Parish in Tacoma, WA consider sponsoring an Afghan family for resettlement, five JV EnCorps members were among the first to respond. With parish permission, we asked Lutheran Community Services to partner with us. In agreeing, their Executive Director noted that: “St. Leo Parish has a rich history of reaching out to and supporting marginalized communities, and they are not newcomers to the complex circumstances around immigration.”
So, what will it take? In a word, everything. Imagine what it would be like: you’ve arrived with your family at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, exhausted from the long flight, and have only your clothes.
“What about food, housing, and appropriate warm clothing? What about medical and dental, especially for the children? Will our culture be respected—will we need counselling to help us fit in? What about ESL classes? Can I get job training? How do I find school(s) for the children? How will they navigate US schools? What special tutoring might they need? How do we navigate public transportation? How do we find a welcoming faith community? How will I/we ever find employment?”
To help answer these and any other questions, our initial “small group” now has 58 volunteers who have committed to providing full support to this family for one year. And it is our hope that, by the end of a year, this family feels like extended members of our families, and that we will continue to be important in each other’s lives.
We don’t yet have details on the family we will sponsor, so please stay tuned for a variety ways to support and get involved as the year progresses.
Story contributed by Tacoma JVE Keith Kragelund.
Without gifts both big and small, the critical services that JV EnCorps members and Jesuit Volunteers provide to immigrants, youth, those experiencing homelessness, and others, would not be possible.