Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming and isolating experience. Refugees, forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution, face particularly acute cultural, emotional, and financial challenges during the resettlement process. The IRC in Charlottesville and Richmond welcomes hundreds of refugees each year, with the support of the local community crucial to their success.
Your faith or civic group can help lead the way from harm to home through the IRC in Charlottesville and Richmond’s Housing Outreach Mentorship & Education (HOME) program, which combines direct financial assistance and mentorship to assist newly-arrived refugee families to become self-sufficient and integrated into the community. HOME Teams will be matched with a refugee family to whom they will provide the following types of support:
Upon arrival, refugees can feel disoriented and alone. HOME Teams welcome them by setting up their apartment and greeting them at the airport. Teams will purchase or donate furniture, household items, and groceries and then help the family’s IRC caseworker set up the apartment. A small group of HOME Team representatives will accompany the caseworker to the airport to welcome the family and provide a meal upon arrival at their new home.
Refugees are provided with funding intended to cover their first one to three months in the United States; this amount is standard across the country, regardless of the cost-of-living. HOME Teams provide direct assistance to subsidize the family’s basic living expenses for five months. The total amount committed ranges from $500 for a couple to $2,500 for a family of six or more.
While the IRC provides cultural and community orientation services, most refugees benefit from additional one-on-one support with navigating U.S. systems and understanding the culture. For at least two hours per week throughout the program, HOME Teams act as guides and allies*. Example activities include visiting the local library, going grocery shopping, and riding the bus.
The IRC in Charlottesville and Richmond is committed to ensuring this experience is a positive and impactful one and will provide guidance and assistance, along with opportunities to connect with other HOME Teams and refugee families.*
- Initial Orientation: Upon enrollment in the program, HOME Teams will participate in an orientation that covers the basics of refugee resettlement, intercultural communication, and the expectations of the program.
- Continual One-on-One Support: Throughout the six months, the refugee family’s caseworker will be available to troubleshoot issues and provide guidance and updates.
- Monthly HOME Team Meetings: Once a month, all current HOME Teams will come together to share successes, address challenges, and learn about other IRC programs.
- Quarterly Potlucks: Four times a year, the IRC will bring together all currently participating refugee families and HOME Teams for a potluck picnic.
To learn more or get started, in Charlottesville please contact Katie.Heroux [at] rescue.org or in Richmond Sharon.Singer [at] rescue.org
*All meetings will be conducted virtually until such time that it is safe for us all to meet in person once again. Any in-person activities such as apartment set-ups and airport welcomes will be conducted using appropriate COVID-19 safety measures including limiting the number of individuals present, masks and physical distance required, windows open when possible.