Exploration of CHFM Support for a Refugee Family

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Ten Friends met on Wednesday, Jan.25 to consider how or if to proceed with “adopting” a refugee family. The CHFM Peace and Social Concerns committee suggested to the January Meeting for Business that the amount of work and commitment involved was best undertaken by a separate committee, dedicated to this work, hence the formation of this investigative group.

We discussed what we know of the refugee support being done by local congregations, including St. Martin’s and St. Paul’s Episcopal churches, Germantown Jewish Center and the Germantown Mennonites, and agreed to return to the next meeting with more detailed specifics. We also plan to find out what Quaker activity, if any, there is in local refugee matters. Of the 3 local resettlement agencies in the Philadelphia area, we feel it would be helpful to hear more from Bethany Christian Services, the organization that has trained the support teams at both St. Martin’s and St. Paul’s, and from HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, with whom Peace and Social Concerns made contact last year.

We are hoping to offer a forum to the Meeting on general refugee issues, and will find out about training, should the Meeting decide to move forward. Given the current political climate, it is not known what future policy on refugee admission to the U.S. will be, but it is clear that even now, there are many needy refugees, asylees and recent immigrant communities in our midst.

Need to know” areas include:

  • How many people, both members and attenders at Chestnut Hill Meeting, would want to be involved in an ongoing, committed way? This is not a venture to be carried by just 3 or 4 people for a short time. Help would be required with e.g. housing, jobs, health care, schools, English lessons, food, transport, clothing and cultural orientation. There is minimal financial support from the government, so it is highly likely that we would also need to help with finances from time to time, e.g. rent and utilities.
  • Might we want to partner with an ongoing program so as to get our feet wet first without ”reinventing the wheel”? e.g. St. Paul’s has indicated enthusiasm for our getting involved there.
  • Might we invite 2 or 3 other Quaker Meetings in our area to partner with us?
  • Might we put energy into advocacy for refugee / immigrant support?

For general information on refugees, the website www.embracerefugees.com is helpful.

The next meeting will be held at the meeting house on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:30pm. ALL are welcome! If you are unable to attend but would like to be involved, please contact Rebecca Heider, Jon Landau or Tricia Walmsley.