“At CRIS, I am serving as the Pre-Arrival Intern for the 2016-2017 Episcopal Service Corps year. As a Pre-Arrival Intern, I have a variety of tasks that take me many places throughout the community. One of my most important jobs is assembling welcome kits for newly arrived families. Each welcome kit includes crucial items that each refuge needs to live comfortably in their new home, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, dish soap, towels and trash bags (just to name a few). As simple as these items might be, they are essentials that lead to a healthy, happy lifestyle and we make sure each family receives these.
Once each family receives their welcome kit, the next step is to get their homes furnished. We have partnerships with the Furniture Bank of Columbus and Mack Mattress Outlet, two incredible organizations that graciously work with us and our families upon arrival. At the furniture bank, we pick out staple pieces- beds, dressers, sofas, kitchen tables, etc. – for each family. Although the furniture bank does assemble some of their own pieces, majority of the furniture would not exist without donations from the community. The Mack Mattress Outlet is where we receive our mattresses for each client. We receive these items brand new, with the hope that each family can continue sleeping on these mattresses for years to come.
When I am not setting up appointments for clients, taking them to get furniture or assembling welcome kits, the rest of my time is spent acquiring donations from the community. We have two donation rooms at the CRIS office where we keep blankets, pots and pans, winter coats and many other items to give to newly arrived families. What keeps this room stocked full is the help from our partner non-profits. Vineyard Church of Columbus has a Transitions program for refugees and we began a partnership with them. Each month, Vineyard sponsors a handful of our families to provide them their household materials. We also receive kitchen supplies from the Recycle Pots and Pans program at the Commissary in Columbus. Working with all of these partnerships infuses me with faith. It truly is a beautiful thing to witness firsthand how crucial it is to work together and share strengths with other people and places in the community. Without help, our work would be nearly impossible.
Lately, I have also had the chance to do a little more outside of my job description. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a family to get their children enrolled in school. These experiences open my eyes more to the challenges each family has to overcome. There is no such thing as just moving here and settling simply. It takes a lot of work from all across the community to assure each family has what they need for a successful, healthy and happy life in America. ”