When Yolanda Zimmerman, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fairview Village, learned about the refugees that are served by Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS), she knew that she wanted to help.
“The concept of home is very important to me,” she said. “I lived in the same home until I went to college and that stability was really beneficial for me. The thought that some people do not have a home was very troublesome.”
So Yolanda started a refugee resettlement committee at Trinity Lutheran, and began collecting donations. “I got a list of items that were needed from LCFS, and put them into an online gift registry. We had an overwhelming response. People brought in beautiful things,” she said. The congregation collected a wide variety of household necessities, including furniture, dishes, and sheets.
Yolanda also volunteered to help clean and furnish an apartment for a newly arriving refugee family. “It opened my eyes to how much it really takes to set up a home, and how much we take for granted,” she said.
Trinity Lutheran recently hosted a church picnic, and invited several refugee families. “They were all so happy to be there and eager to start their new lives. They’re all so appreciative,” Yolanda said. “It was great for everyone meet the people that they’re helping.”
Yolanda says that Trinity Lutheran is in the beginning stages of its involvement in refugee resettlement. She plans to continue to help refugee families, and hopes that Trinity Lutheran might be able to sponsor a refugee family in the future.
There are a variety of ways that congregations or individuals can help with refugee resettlement, that require varying levels of commitment. Opportunities include donating money or household items, volunteering to provide transportation, English tutoring or culture orientation, or sponsoring a family, which is approximately a four-month commitment.
“Everyone has something that they can give; things like coupons or extra household items that you don’t need, or your time. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but when we put it all together, it makes a huge difference,” Yolanda said.
“When we get involved it makes us more compassionate. We see people who are refugees, and we don’t know what they’ve been through. When we get to know them it makes us more compassionate in our speech and our actions.”