Learn More about How to Sponsor and Assist a Refugee Family

On Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 6 pm, in Room H1, you are invited to an Open House with Sarah Eary, the Community Integration Manager for Lutheran Social Services, and RAFT (Refugee Assistance and Friendship Teams). Learn how you can welcome the stranger to the Valley of the Sun and how you can be a part of this vital ministry under the Missions Ministry Team umbrella at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church.

In July 2016, PVUMC’s RAFT members welcomed their first two refugee families, both from Syria. Now, the families are living and working in Mesa and Chandler, self-sufficient thanks to their hard work, desire to learn and work, and our assistance with furniture donations, English language practice, rides to doctors and so much more. In early 2017, the group agreed to help three other refugees find employment and affordable housing, as well as offer transportation and language assistance — a man from Eritrea and two women from the Congo. The last family RAFT co-sponsored was from the Congo. They arrived earlier this year and are living in Glendale, AZ.

RAFT includes core member teams who help welcome refugees to our country by providing donated furniture for their apartments, cultural support, and English language practice. RAFT first began working with Refugee Focus, a division of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. At one of the first presentations the church hosted, attendees watched a slide show called “Refugees 101,” which focuses on why and how refugees arrive in the United States, the countries they come from, and what we can do to welcome them. Click here for a pdf of the 2015 slide show.

Churches in Phoenix have been friends, neighbors, and mentors to newly arrived refugees since Refugee Focus opened its doors in the early 80s under Lutheran Social Services. Several PVUMC members had a tour of Refugee Focus and met with its director with the intention of learning more about how the church could help refugees. This initiative grew out of the Interfaith Speaker Series, Who Is My Neighbor, held in the spring of 2015 in cooperation with Salaam-Chai-Paradise. Currently, RAFT is under the PVUMC Missions Ministry Team umbrella.

Keith Sobraske, who helped create RAFT and is one of the leaders, plans to talk about how you can get involved with RAFT, from soliciting and collecting donations of furniture to welcoming recently arrived refugees at the airport. Whether you are a member of RAFT now or are just interested in learning more about refugee resettlement, please join us. Click here for a pdf of Keith’s slideshow from 2016.

If you are interested in living our the church mission to be God’s love in action, please come to the Open House. You do not have to be a member of PVUMC. If you have questions or want to know more before the event, email Keith Sobraske for more information on how to get involved.

This year’s Open House at PVUMC is not only to invite new participants in RAFT; this event is for everyone who’s already on board with RAFT to learn new skills and techniques in refugee assistance.

Sarah Eary, the Community Integration Manager for Lutheran Social Services, RAFT’s resettlement partner, will be speaking on three topics.

The tentative schedule follows:
• 6:00 Welcome (Keith)
• 6:05 What is Refugee Resettlement? Sarah Eary will provide information about LSS, the resettlement process, and the current landscape in local and national resettlement efforts.
• 6:30 A brief introduction to RAFT and what we do (Keith)
• 6:40 Training on cultural competence and refugee empowerment. Sarah will discuss some of the issues that persons assisting refugees encounter in the refugee assistance effort, including cultural sensitivity and developing cultural competence, setting boundaries and promoting refugee self-sufficiency. For some, this will be a refresher course, and for others, new information about how we can best assist our new friends.
• BREAK.
• 7:30 Guides and tips from Sarah for helping our refugee families learn English. If you are interested in teaching English as a second language, Sarah has some tips to share to actively engage our new friends to learn English, the singularly most important skill a refugee can learn toward self-sufficiency. This is an optional section of the training, but maybe the most engaging of the evening.
• 8:00 Adjourn.

Visit http://www.lss-sw.org/refugeeservices/ to learn more about our partner organization and the work they do.

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