Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming and isolating experience for anyone. Refugees, who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution, face particularly acute cultural, emotional, and financial challenges during their first few months here. The IRC in Northern California welcomes thousands of people each year, and the support of the local community is crucial to their success.
The HOME program connects community members and groups directly with refugee families resettled by the International Rescue Committee in Northern California. In collaboration with IRC, HOME teams assist with apartment/new home set-up, targeted financial assistance, and ongoing mentorship during the family’s first six months in the U.S.
Upon arrival, refugees can feel disoriented and alone. HOME Teams help welcome them to Northern California in two ways: apartment set-ups and airport pick-ups. Teams will purchase or donate in-kind furniture, household items, and groceries and then together help IRC staff set-up the apartment. A small group of HOME Team representatives may also accompany the caseworker to the airport to welcome the family to the United States.
Refugees are provided with funding to cover their first 30 days in the United States and IRC connects families to ongoing financial assistance programs once that funding is exhausted. HOME teams raise funds, depending on family size, to help families cover their rent and initial deposits.
While the IRC provides cultural orientation classes and community navigation 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, HOME Teams act as guides and allies. Example activities include visiting the local library, going grocery shopping, and riding the bus.
Support for HOME Teams
The IRC is committed to ensuring HOME teams have the support and guidance needed to make this experience positive and impactful. Because ongoing communication and collaboration with IRC staff is key, HOME teams receive:
- Initial Orientation: Upon enrollment in the program, HOME Teams participate in an orientation that covers the basics of refugee resettlement, cultural communication, and expectations of the program. Monthly introductory webinars are available to new HOME Team members.
- Continual One-on-One Support: Throughout the mentorship period, an IRC liaison is available to troubleshoot issues, provide guidance, and provide updates.
Interested in forming a team?
Missy! Orr, MSW | Community Engagement Manager
International Rescue Committee
T +1 916 482 0120 | F +1 916 482 8806
Missy.Orr [at] Rescue.org