Blog → November 14, 2023

Connecting Communities Through Sponsorship Circles: “Navigating With Humor”

Elizabeth Gregg
Elizabeth Gregg, Sponsor Circle lead

We interviewed Elizabeth Gregg as part of our World Refugee Day event. Elizabeth was first connected with the refugee cause through a Facebook post. One of her friends was creating a sponsor circle for the influx of refugees coming to their community of Seattle, WA. After deciding that participation was possible for their family, Elizabeth got involved.

A sponsor circle brings together different individuals to help an incoming family with all the different aspects of resettlement. Elizabeth’s sponsor circle included three other women from her neighborhood to support a family. Together they helped the newcomers with everything from finding housing, to learning English, to learning to grocery shop in a new country.

It was often all hands on deck with each member of the sponsor circle working to welcome the family. Elizabeth recalls that it often took creativity and diligence to navigate the confusing system of government benefits and social programs.

She has found that the key to maneuvering the web of systems is to, “navigate with humor,” on both the part of the volunteer and refugee.

She would often say to the families, “I don’t know how we are going to get this done, but we are going to figure it out together,” and “That didn’t work, let’s try something else.”

The experience of working in a sponsor circle has been incredibly impactful. Some of her most special memories include picking up children from the airport and putting them in a car seat for the first time or watching parents drop off their children on the first day of school. The relationships built have enriched the lives of these families and those of the volunteers.

Elizabeth now considers the families she has worked with as her own family. Deep relationships were formed as she learned their stories. She shares that part of serving means you share meals, birthday celebrations, and baby showers. Elizabeth has helped write the next chapter for dozens of families.

When asked to give her advice to others wanting to help, she cautioned against getting overwhelmed by the big ways to serve, she encouraged, “You can make a difference by doing small things.”

Watch Elizabeth Gregg’s full interview:

World Refugee Day 2023 Event
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