Sea of Coats in Kansas City
The last few months have flown by as we have immersed ourselves in this vital work. Many doors have opened to Our Kansas City team while seeking to find opportunities to serve, love, and help our refugee friends.
The last few years saw refugee resettlement here in KC trickle as we welcomed fewer and fewer refugees. However, after World Refugee Day in June, our work seemed promising, and the KC area looked as though it would receive approximately 1000 refugees. Then with the Afghan refugee crisis in August, that number skyrocketed to at least 1500. The three local resettlement agencies; Catholic Charities of NorthEast Kansas (CCNEK), Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) and Della Lamb, have had their hands full gearing up for such a feat. More could also join our KC community through humanitarian parole—a process where individuals and groups join together to help resettle refugees.
When the plight of refugees was unceremoniously brought to the world stage, we found the work here in Kansas City to unfold almost step by step before us. First, resettlement agencies like CCNEK and JVS have been in dire need of help, and we have made important contacts and been in conversations with them about how we can best support their efforts. Though in-person meetings and formal partnerships with TSOS are forthcoming, our KC team is laying a solid foundation for when we are able to meet in person with the agencies and form more robust connections.
Second, to further the work of welcoming refugees to Kansas City, I have taken on a greater role with our partners, KC for Refugees, as a member of their board. In doing so, we have been able to help facilitate some of the work that is being done here in the KC area. KC for Refugees recently sourced a storage area for storing their donations! They are now able to more formally collect items that refugees are in need of, such as hygiene kits, coats, clothing, underwear, socks, and more. Monthly community drives are in progress to gather the needed supplies to help refugees integrate into our community.
Nothing is more rewarding than seeing our beloved KC community rally around the cause to ready homes, gather donations, source housing, learn more about how to sponsor humanitarian parolees, prepare to mentor refugees, and on and on. We are not the only ones who found ourselves unprepared for these moments, but we have watched the community come together and help in any way they can.
So, a few weeks ago, as I dug through a veritable sea of coat donations to find coats for the children of a beautiful Syrian refugee family, I couldn’t help but stand in awe of what a community can do when it comes together. Unearthing an unexpected bag of toys, delighted faces lit up when I placed them straight into the eager little hands. I carried one of the daughters to the car and strapped her into her car seat with her new pink coat with rainbows, and I could feel the warmth of all the collective efforts of the many hearts knit together in this effort across the world. That’s the kind of community I proudly belong to—and I am grateful to be a part of.
Click here to learn more about joining a Sponsor Circle to support a newly arriving refugee family.
Follow KC for Refugees Facebook Page to learn about their monthly collections.
Email [email protected] if you would like to join our TSOS KC Community Programs team in gathering and sharing stories that advocate, educate, and actuate integration of refugees.
We know there are stories in Kansas City that need to be told. So, we sat down and made a plan. We listed individuals, nonprofit organizations, and resettlement agencies that we have relationships with. Then we listed ways we could weave these stories together by topic: connected communities, housing, resettlement, etc. Our list grew and grew, and before we knew it we had a roadmap.
Their Story is Our Story was invited to participate in “Welcoming Kansas City” to collaborate with and support groups ranging from Arabic communities to groups dedicated to supporting women who have been sexually abused or involved in human trafficking
Just as citizens in Europe and the U.K. have heroically supported displaced Ukrainians by opening up their homes or securing other housing, assisting with school enrollments, employment needs, and language learning, Americans now have the opportunity via the Welcome.us Sponsor Circles program to directly help newly arrived Ukrainians. The United States has committed to welcoming 100,000 Ukrainians temporarily for a period of two-years and the ability to apply for employment authorization in the U.S. as long as they have a U.S.-based sponsor to petition for them.