As we take the first few steps into 2023, we’d like to take a minute to recap the work we accomplished together in 2022.
Apartment set-ups Austin
Throughout the year RVRP worked closely with agencies in Dallas and in Austin resettling refugee families from Afghanistan into our communities. We gathered or purchased and supplied almost everything needed for new apartment set-ups. Donated funds enabled our teams to purchase beds, good pillows and linens, new dishes and kitchen necessities, cleaning supplies, pantry staples and fresh food. We are thankful for the toys and baby items donated and we are thankful for those who gathered clean rugs, suitable art, lamps and other “extras” which make a home more welcoming. Our volunteers have shown up over and over with sleeves rolled up and wonderful, cooperative attitudes. We will continue to offer support to Refugee Services of Texas in Dallas and Austin as well as Austin Jews and Partners for Refugees as they resettle families.
Apartment set-ups Dallas
The Austin apartment set-ups slowed down this summer but our Dallas team still continues to complete them on a frequent basis. Helping new families settle in new homes as comfortably as possible will remain a priority as we move through 2023. We thank the families who consistently show up to make these projects possible and to Preston Trail Community Church for their in-kind and monetary donations which serve both the refugee community, asylum seekers at the border and those coming through Dallas.
New Baby Packages
Partnering with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Muslim Community Center of Lakeway, we collected items to make thirty three large new-baby gift packages to donate through Muslim Community Services and Refugee Services of Texas. A few of them benefitted the STEP program as well. We thank those who generously donated items, cash and time to make this service activity possible. The packages were given to new or expectant mothers in a matter of a couple of weeks. We will remain in close touch with local agencies to stay abreast of their needs.
Working with Muslim Community Services to supply groceries to particular families
Additionally, we thank volunteers who have stepped forward to purchase groceries for families in need this past year. Several requests extended through Muslim Community Services have been fulfilled by our team members in Austin and we look forward to assisting in 2023.
Involvement in Dallas Responds receiving asylum seekers
Our Dallas team has been working closely with Oak Lawn United Methodist Church to welcome buses of asylum seekers in transit from Del Rio. Clients are coming primarily from Turkey and parts of Central America. RVRP is part of Dallas Responds and is responsible for supplying travelers with necessary supplies, clothing, diapers and hygiene items. Buses arrive weekly. We are thankful for the Dallas community and JustServe for responding to an on-going need for items. We are also thankful for the individuals and church groups who volunteer their efforts in the resource center and at the Methodist Church to keep supply rooms organized and efficient. We will continue to work with Dallas Responds throughout this next year. If you are interested in donating or volunteering with this effort, please contact us.
We have come up on the one-year anniversary of the Bethlehem House in Dallas, a transitional shelter for especially vulnerable refugees. In the year since it was renovated, it has sheltered five large families. Next week it will be cleaned thoroughly by volunteers and prepared for new families.
Work along the border in McAllen, Brownsville and Matamoros
At the border, RVRP took several teams of volunteers to serve with Team Brownsville and Catholic Charities in McAllen. We have gone into Matamoros to purchase shoes and underwear, food and hygiene items for a shelter housing asylum seekers. We visited the center and were impressed with the operation. They have been able to keep a very vulnerable group of people safe and well cared for. Thanks to church groups and dedicated individuals, we have supplied travel hygiene kits to travelers coming through Brownsville. This is an ongoing need which we will continue to coordinate. We have also been able to assist with warm clothes, socks and shoes.
RVRP teams have served at the respite center in McAllen assisting where needed, organizing donations, prepping and serving food, playing with children, and supplying baby carriers, clothing, medicine and other necessities. And, as usual, we spent a good amount of time in Walmart purchasing items in low-stock, like socks and underwear. We’ve especially enjoyed engaging teenagers in our work. They bring so much energy, enthusiasm and fun to the projects we place before them and look forward to working with them in 2023.
Collaboration with Boston University
Additionally, in March we assisted faculty at Boston University with a pilot program designed to create a new curriculum called The US-Mexico Border Studies Program, which offers students the opportunity to observe and analyze the problems faced by migrants and communities in the Rio Grande valley. Interviews and volunteer experience were facilitated with key individuals and agencies. These students and professors are dedicated to learning and finding ways to tackle the growing issues. It has always been our goal to engage young people in this work.
We look forward to serving with you throughout 2023. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or if you’d like to come help.