Afghan Refugee Resettlement Assistance – We Need Your Help!

Dear Temple Beth El Community,

From the beginning of the evacuation of thousands of Afghan people began in mid-August, congregants have been reaching out to Temple Beth El asking how we might best assist those arriving in our country. In turn, we have reached out to our partners, Jewish Community Refugee Initiative (JCRI) as well as the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA). CRRA is expecting to receive about 25 families from Afghanistan in the next six months, as well as refugees from other countries as part of their regular refugee arrival schedule.

Together, there are several steps we can take to partner with CRRA in their resettlement efforts. Our congregation-wide effort will be led by our Income Inequality Team, one of our social justice groups that developed from our listening campaign last spring. This group of congregants has committed to work on issues impacting income inequality and this will be their first action. We thank them for their commitment to serving the community.

Attend
Join us on Sunday November 7 at 7:00pm for the Fourth Annual Welcoming the Stranger to the (Virtual) Table hosted by the Jewish Community Refugee Initiative (JCRI), a lay-driven Shalom Park wide social justice initiative.

Donate

  • Donate to CRRA’s Afghan Emergency Fund. Thanks to the generosity of fellow TBE congregants (Stephanie & Gary Starr, Deidre & Clay Grubb, and an anonymous donor), your donation will be matched up to $15,000. To qualify for this match, donations must be received by the end of the 2021 calendar year.
    • Donate by check made out to Temple Beth El with “JCRI” in the memo line;
    • Donate online by selecting “JCRI – Welcoming the Stranger” in drop-down menu.
  • Donate furniture or household goods to help CRRA set up apartments for new arrivals. Items must be in good condition and easily transportable as CRRA is a volunteer-based organization and does not have the capacity to move or store particularly large or heavy items. This is an ongoing need as the schedules for arrivals vary, so please keep this in mind in the months going forward. If you have items you would like to donate, please contact Betsy House. CRRA is especially in need of:
    • Dressers
    • Dining tables and chairs
    • Sofas

Volunteer
As people arrive on an ongoing basis, CRRA maintains a list of people who are available during occasional weekdays to do the following:

  • Apartment set up for new arrivals
    • People with a large truck or van who would be able to transport furniture (with assistance). This is usually during the week and will take a few hours of your time.
    • Strong people who can help move furniture
    • Volunteers to help set up apartments for incoming families.
    • Drive new refugees to appointments
    • Process and organize donations two (2) mornings per week.

If you are interested in helping in one of these ways, contact Patti Widerman.

Provide Housing
Due to the increase of unexpected arrivals, CRRA is seeking volunteers who would be able to provide temporary housing for refugees and other new arrivals until permanent housing can be secured. If you think this is something you would be interested in, please note the following:

  • CRRA is asking that you fill out a survey to indicate interest. Filling out the survey is not a commitment to provide housing.  It is just a starting point. After the survey is complete:
    • CRRA staff will review the information to determine if the offer is a viable possibility for their clients.
    • If you are a good fit for the incoming families, CRRA staff will reach out to invite you to a Zoom temporary housing information session. Attending this information session will not obligate you to move forward if you feel it is not the right step for you.
    • If the housing you can provide is not a good fit for CRRA’s needs at this time, someone from that organization will reach out to you and discuss other opportunities to assist.
  • The request for housing, is just that – housing. Transportation, meal stipends and other items will be coordinated and supplied by CRRA.
  • Given the fluid situation, we are unable to determine at this point the status of COVID vaccination for any arrival. More information will be provided should you choose to move forward with the process.
  • The housing needs will be on an ongoing basis and would start immediately but continue well into the Spring, depending upon when people arrive. The duration of any one stay in not known. It could be days, weeks or even longer. But the goal is for it to be as short term as possible and move families into their permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Advocate
Are you an attorney willing to help pro-bono in one of the following areas?

  • Review apartment lease with a prospective guarantor;
  • Drafting a loan agreement between a member of TBE who agrees to serve as a guarantor and a refugee lessee; or
  • Helping Afghan parolees adjust to a permanent immigration status (e.g., parolee granted asylum).

We are still assessing the needs for these services, contact Eric Sidman.

Co-Sign
Serve as a guarantor on a one-year apartment lease. Many apartment complexes require proof of monthly salary of 3x the rent (last 60 days of pay stubs) which evacuees will not be able to meet upon their arrival in Charlotte. Afghan refugees will have their first several months of rent paid directly to their landlord by CRRA from their resettlement stipend. Additionally, they will obtain employment to enable them to pay their rent in full after that. However, to be able to sign a lease they will need a co-signer/guarantor who will meet the 3x the rent requirement. CRRA is seeking volunteers who would be willing to serve in this capacity. To help protect the guarantor or co-signer, CRRA will have several safeguards in place. If you are interested in hearing more about this, Madeline Nichols, Volunteer Coordinator at CRRA, (704) 535-8803.

If you have any questions about any of the above, please reach out to Nicole Sidman for more information.

L’Shalom,

Nicole Sidman, Social Justice Outreach Coordinator
Income Inequality Team
Temple Beth El Clergy