Partnerships and Community Commitment
History of Hearts and Homes for Refugees and the Grass Roots Welcoming Movement in Westchester County
Hearts and Homes for Refugees (HHR) was created in the fall of 2015 as a task force of Pelham residents to explore ways to welcome refugee families to our community and to inspire, educate and motivate others to do the same. Today, HHR represents over 400 volunteers and supporters largely from our Pelham community. In keeping with our mission to "inspire, educate and motivate others," HHR will continue to work and bring other communities together to build on the grassroots movement.
Additionally, throughout the lower Hudson Valley, many people have responded to the refugee crisis. Over 80 faith-based and civic organizations signed the Hudson Valley Call to Action in 2015 and today, over 2,000 volunteers and supporters from interfaith and civic groups, neighbors, and communities represent the Welcoming Movement in the lower Hudson Valley.
In response to the outpouring of support for welcoming refugees, two of the nine government-approved Resettlement Agencies – Catholic Charities Community Service (CCCS), and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) opened offices in Westchester County in 2017. For the first time, refugees are able to be welcomed to Westchester County and HHR is one of ten other organizations which have partnered with these Resettlement Agencies to resettle and support refugees.
Outlook for FY2018
During this time of refugee bans and legal actions, it is expected that in FY2018 there will be a dip in resettlement cases and program funding. The challenge before us is how do we continue to keep the grassroots momentum for refugee resettlement and support in Westchester County and surrounding areas alive and people of goodwill engaged during this time? With input from a coalition of organizations and individuals throughout the welcoming network, we have an exciting lineup of innovative ways that your communities, organizations and individuals can get involved. We will be rolling out activities in the first few months of 2018. For a preview, go to Ways to Help and sign up for Westchester Refugee Initiative at WRI@heartsandhomesforrefugees.com.