In a little over three years, we have resettled three families (10 people) in Westchester and helped to resettle another three families (16 people) on Long Island and in New Haven, CT. Our initiatives have helped over 1,000 refugees.
For all these families, we provided up to 18 months of housing. For some, we also helped get their children enrolled in schools, transported them to doctor appointments and ESL classes, and found the fathers employment.
Another important component of resettlement is cultural acclimation. NFR has taken our refugee families ice skating and bowling, to Yankees games, museums, Broadway shows and other theater events in NYC, to the movies, and into our own homes.
In 2017, NFR collected two large truckloads of medical equipment, bicycles, clothing, diapers, and shoes, which we sent to Syrian refugees living in camps in Greece, with the help of an organization called NuDay Syria. In the fall of 2018 and 2019, we collected winter clothing and toiletries for over 600 refugees living in the tri-state area. Our clothing drives involve the entire community and drive tremendous impact. This past fall, we started working with the Abbott House, a non-profit that houses children who are detainees. We most recently provided them with 100 Spanish-English dictionaries to further their education. We also partnered with Keeping Our Promise (KOP), a refugee resettlement group in Rochester, NY. KOP resettles between 20 and 30 SIV families a year and they desperately needed help. NFR responded by providing emergency rent and utility relief for 6 families (17 people).
An Afghan family arrived in the U.S. only to find that the support they had been promised from relatives was not, in reality, available. We were contacted by HIAS and asked to consider how we might help this family. We paid their rent for six months until the father was fully employed.
A family from Syria had finished their initial resettlement period when both parents experienced serious health issues. NFR helped this family of five move to a better apartment and provided rent money for 12 months while they recovered and were able to be self-supporting.
One young woman from Syria who was the mother of a toddler and was three months pregnant, was widowed by a tragic automobile accident soon after their arrival. Besides the trauma of losing her husband and the father of her children, she now was left with no means of financial or emotional support. NFR formed a partnership with an individual donor and a local mosque to help pay this young mother’s rent for 18 months.
The newly arriving refugees we have been privileged to support in their resettlement are:
A young man from Pakistan who came to us through CCCS and arrived March 7, 2017, a brief three months after we formed as an organization. He is happily settled in New Rochelle and is no longer dependent upon NFR for support. We are grateful that he maintains a friendship with many of us in the organization.
A Special Immigrant Visa (“SIV”) family of six from Afghanistan came to us through HIAS and arrived on January 16, 2018. This family with four boys, ages 8 – 15, is settled in Yonkers. The father has a job at White Plains Hospital. NFR’s financial support for them ends July 1, 2019, but we continue to provide tutoring to the boys and ESL lessons for the mother.
An SIV family of six from Afghanistan arrived on February 14, 2019. This family with three girls and one boy, ages 16 – 20, is settled in Hicksville, Long Island. Their original source of support had fallen through, and HIAS approached us about helping them. The family wanted to remain in the thriving Afghan community in Hicksville, so rather than relocate them to Westchester, we helped to furnish their apartment and provided rental support for six months
An SIV family of three from Afghanistan came to us through HIAS and arrived on November 16, 2019. This family with one boy, aged 19 months, is settled in White Plains. The father has a job in Hawthorne. NFR’s financial support for them ends in November 2020.
Business Incubator Program
In the last year, our Business Incubator Program has helped four refugee families begin their journey to running their own businesses.
Two of these women want to start a catering business serving Afghan food. We have helped with business planning and menu inception.
We have helped a Syrian woman organize and expand her seamstress business.
We are also working with a man who had a successful auto repair business in Afghanistan plan for opening an auto repair shop in Westchester.
Year 2 Fund
Neighbors For Refugees (NFR) created the Year 2 (Y2) Fund to help refugees and other eligible immigrants who have exhausted their resettlement resources available from other groups or agencies. To date, we have helped more than 250 refugees.
The goal of the Y2 Fund is to enable refugees, or people with another immigration status, such as asylees, to continue to move forward and build a better life for themselves and their families - in their second year and beyond.
Examples of families we have helped to date:
A family who has experienced significant hardship, most recently due to the father’s serious cancer diagnosis and ongoing chemotherapy treatment: We provided financial assistance to help generate income with small carpentry tools and driving lessons for wife.
A family whose home was bombed, leaving them with extensive injuries: We have helped with some monetary assistance, driving lessons for the father, and winter clothing.
A widow with two very young children facing financial difficulties: We have helped her with some emergency funds and rental assistance.
Funds to purchase kitchen equipment for a Syrian woman starting a new catering business.
Relocation assistance for a family moving to a more affordable community.
Money for essentials (clothing, toiletries, etc.) for an unaccompanied pregnant teen who arrived from the southern border with no belongings. The young woman was welcomed at one of our NY partners, Abbott House.
Travel money to attend ESL lessons for one of the area's relocated Syrian moms.
Transportation funds for a Sri Lankan refugee who found employment at a new job requiring a metro card.
Application fees for a young Syrian woman trained as a dentist and ready for her first residency in the U.S.
Our first refugee to arrive in Westchester was a young man from Pakistan. He quickly began English classes at a community center, learned to navigate American grocery stores and laundromats, and made his way around town on a generously donated bicycle. Our employment committee found him an excellent job with a local golf club where he worked overtime almost every weekend. He became completely self-sufficient after one year and is now successfully driving long-haul truck routes across America.
Our second refugees arrived in 2018, a family of six from Afghanistan. This family were recipients of Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) due to the father’s work with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The family arrived with four beautiful sons who were quickly integrated into classes in their public schools by our education committee. The mother of this family learned her way around the neighborhood and has used her impressive culinary skills to cater several NFR events. With help from our employment committee, the father of this family found a job at a local hospital with excellent opportunities for advancement.
Our third family to arrive in Westchester were a family of three, also SIVs from Afghanistan.This young couple with a toddler arrived and began making their apartment into an Afghan home. The mother is improving her English conversation skills through at-home tutoring from our education committee. With an unusual complement of skills and experience and excellent English, the father was employed after only three months by a local small business. The family has quickly become integrated into the growing community of refugees in our area.