Story by Mary Martin.
Texas is set to receive more than 300 Afghan refugees over the next several months. Some refugees are people who have received Special Immigrant Visas for their cooperation with the US government, possibly as military translators. If you are looking to help, here are some organizations that are helping with the immediate and long-term needs of refugee families as we welcome them to the Dallas area.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Refugee Services of Texas are the main agencies responsible for receiving new refugees in the state, helping them to find housing, learn English, and get a job. These organizations also provide services like youth mentoring and driving families to appointments. The biggest need for IRC and Refugee Services of Texas right now is financial donations so they have the flexibility to meet last-minute needs.
Northwest Community Center is a hub for refugee programs in Dallas. They have formed welcome teams that help welcome refugees at the airport, help families set up their apartments with donated furniture and simply be a friend for the first few months in a new country. Volunteers help families learn the public transit system and how to shop in an American grocery store. Northwest Community Center also has programs for learning English and job-readiness skills, and once a month they partner with Hope Supply Co to provide diapers and hygiene kits. If you are interested in volunteering, reach out to their team at nccrefugees.org.
Vickery Trading Company employs refugee women to create beautiful handmade clothing and accessories. They provide vocational training for women who don’t know how to sew, personal development classes, and pay every woman a fair wage. They are currently looking for five conversation partner volunteers who spend an hour each Monday morning with one of the women in their program, serving as a supplement to English language classes and also as a friend.
Bed Start and Be Deliberate are two organizations that work to provide gently used furniture. The biggest need is for volunteers to help pick up and deliver donated furniture, but you can also donate furniture or even warehouse space. You can sign up to volunteer to help at bedstart.org or bedeliberate.org.
SHOP FOR A CAUSE
Vickery Trading Company has a line of high-quality children’s and women’s clothing that is handmade by refugee women and they are about to launch their holiday line, including family pajamas. You can shop online at vickerytrading.org.
Mars Hill Farm employs refugees and also provides plots of land for refugees to grow their own produce. You can purchase flowers from their farm at local farmer’s markets, and you can also go to their upcoming fall farm event with a pumpkin patch and cut-your-own sunflowers. That is on October 2nd and you can find more information at marshillfarm.com.
Rakkasan Tea has a storefront located in East Dallas and was started by two US Army veterans who experienced the local tea culture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their specialty teas are sourced exclusively from post-conflict regions, helping to rebuild communities that have experienced war. You can order tea online at rakkasantea.com or visit them at 1619 N Hall Street in Dallas.