Ways to Help Hard-working Refugees in Our Area

Ways to Help Hard-working Refugees in Our Area

By Lynn Zender

St. Mary’s, Elk Grove, has an Adult Education series entitled “Who Is My Neighbor”. Recently, attendees heard a presentation from Usama Khalil, the founder and executive director of Refugee Enrichment and Development Association (REDA) in the Sacramento area. Khalil made a very moving presentation about how refugees work hard to be successful in our country and the barriers refugees must overcome.

Our local resettlement agencies are contracted to work with refugees for just the first 90 days they are in our country. As you can imagine, that is not enough time to get settled. Learning English, learning our culture, getting a job, taking care of health care issues, having a car, having income so they can take care of housing and its side costs, and so on and on - pretty overwhelming tasks when they all come at once.

REDA was just developed as a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to work with refugees after that first 90 days so they will have an opportunity to be successful in our country. REDA offers the refugees two critical kinds of services: The first helps them to address their daily logistical needs such as translation, sorting their mail, filling out their social services forms and applications, getting to medical appointments for the entire family, helping them deal with medical insurance, helping them find and apply for jobs, enrolling the adult children in colleges, plus many other similar daily critical; the other REDA service provides referrals to local agencies and other nonprofit organizations for specific professional service such as counseling, professional training, housing assistance, etc.

How Can We Help

Khalil identified one possibility, the collection of nonfood items.

Almost all refugees receive food assistance from the county that in most cases is adequate for their basic nutritional needs. Because they receive a very limited cash assistance (that in many cases is not even enough to pay the rent and utilities) and because of lack of significant cash flow, Usama suggested that one way we could help would be buying the other very urgently needed household items that we all use at home: paper products, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items, babies diapers, etc.

If your congregation is interested in working on a collection project to collect the items mentioned above, please contact the REDA Center at 916.500.4299 or you can drop your donated items directly at their office located at 2919 Fulton Avenue, Sacramento, CA, 95821 Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is one very easy way we can help our neighbors!

Lynn Zender of St. Martin's, Davis, is the Northern California coordinator for Welcoming the Stranger Immigration & Refugee Ministries.

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