Contributed by Seth Lloyd, Outreach Committee Chair
You have all heard the old adage that “it takes a village….” While this is typically applied to raising a child, it has proven equally true to our sponsorship of an Afghan refugee family!
As you no doubt remember, after a long discussion, the parish agreed to sponsor a family that had recently fled Afghanistan. “Our” family consists of parents and 5 children (soon to be 6!). Although they have been in the U.S. for several months, we assumed responsibility as their sponsor in March of this year.
The Steering Committee. Our Steering Committee consists of several parishioners and friends who volunteered early on for this role:
- Mary Herring, co-chair
- Margo Norris, co-chair
- Nathan Collard
- Bobbi Gaspar
- Lauren Leney
- Sally LePla
- Eileen MacDonald, who is taking over for Margo while Margo is in Vermont
- Frances Trix
- Carol Weisfeld, a long-time participant in our outreach activities from the Reconstructionist Congregation of Detroit
This group was hard at work long before we moved the family into their Westland rental home. Margo and Mary interacted for many weeks with Samaritas personnel. Samaritas, formerly known as Lutheran Social Services, is the principal refugee settlement agency in Southeast Michigan. Margo set about searching for a suitable home for the family, visiting countless homes throughout Wayne County. We were restricted to Wayne County for a very practical reason: The County has in place a program that will pay rent for 12 months for refugee families if they reside in the County. Ultimately, Samaritas found them a suitable home in Westland.
The Move. The Westland house was partially furnished, but much was still needed to make it a home. Lauren Leney and John Staif, Lisa Staif’s siblings, graciously offered the contents of her home — furniture, pots and pans, dishes, and silverware. The Steering Committee members also collected other important items to complete the furnishings. All the non-furniture items had to be packed for the move. The furniture which came with the Westland house was either used – mostly to create another usable room in the basement – or stored. The “move” involved relocating this existing furniture, transporting all these items to Westland in a U-Haul, and carefully unloading the trailer’s contents. Jon Miller spearheaded this effort, ably assisted by Chuck Atwater, and the following parishioners:
- Paul Abdullah
- Tim Bledsoe
- Nathan Collard
- Jayce Harnois
- John Leney
- Howard Matthew
- Ed Maki-Schramm
- Roger Maki-Schramm
- John Staif
- Jim Treece
The “crew” not only lugged countless boxes and pieces of furniture, but dismantled obstacles, such as door frames and bannisters, to their efforts. They even repaired some appliances. All slept well the night of March 26!
Next week: The “Settlers” and the “Specialists”. Stay tuned!