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Other Ways to help refugees in 2018

Due to the Trump Administration's intention to dismantle the refugee program, starting with the admitting a historically low number of refugees for resettlement in 2018, it is more important than ever for supporters of this humanitarian effort to stay engaged in meaningful support of refugees.  In our area, the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) is a program of Hearts and Homes for Refugees and is under development.  WRI, in partnership with the Resettlement Agencies, offers ways to support refugees, asylum seekers, and others identified as refugees under the law.  

Join the HHR Westchester Refugee Initiative

The Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) is a collaboration of and resource for the grassroots effort which has sprung up in communities in and around Westchester County over the past two years.

It is a way for co-sponsor and host organizations to share knowledge, resources, and expertise and to encourage others to volunteer and support refugee resettlement.

Most important, it is a way to the keep the welcoming movement alive and gaining in strength in these challenging times.

This is a volunteer-driven program and depends on the support of existing network of volunteers AND new supporters. Please join us and sign up at   

WRI Programs & Activities

Refugee Family Booster Program *

For those refugee families who are no longer in the resettlement program in Westchester, the Bronx, Queens or Connecticut and are working hard to assimilate and maintain independence, there are times when the unexpected happens. Hearts and Homes for Refugees/ WRI  "Booster" program look to connect these families and their ad hoc needs with volunteers in the welcoming movement who want to simply lend a helping hand.  If your own family, church or social/civic group, co-sponsor or host organization has time and an interest in helping out from time to time, please send an email and ask to add your name to the volunteer list:

To learn more about the model envisioned for WRI, or to start a mentorship program in your community, read about Hello Neighbor,  a Pittsburgh based mentorship program where neighbors are matched with a refugee family.  

Advocate For Refugees 

It is vital to advocate for refugee resettlement programs to effectively respond to the greatest refugee crisis in human history. Resettlement agencies and refugee organizations were alarmed by the President's proposed ban and budget for the fiscal year of 2018. Not only does it lower the number of refugees allowed into the country, but also cuts funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement by over 31 percent. These budget cuts and curbs to the number of refugees allowed into the country will only worsen the global humanitarian crisis. This situation requires citizens to speak out and advocate for refugees at the federal, state, and local levels. Our legislators at every level of government need to hear from all of us who believe in the American value of welcoming the stranger.If you are interested in spearheading an advocacy outreach effort,

Sponsor a refugee family - Donate a monthly grocery store gift card 

Family to Family's Refugee Sponsorship Program is a way to help families and individuals that have arrived in the U.S. seeking asylum. As they rebuild their lives, start jobs and enroll in school, your sponsorship will provide the family we link you to with a week’s worth of groceries each month.
Contact Pam Kroner at Family to Family.  

Advocate for Refugees & Special Immigrant Visas (SIV's)

As of Spring 2017, there were approximately 60,000 Iraqi and 15,000 Afghan interpreters who had applied to resettle in the US, but only 1,437 visas were granted under the SIV Program and USRAP. Iraqi and Afghan translators risked their lives and the lives of their families to assist our troops. As a result, many have been living in hiding and in fear for years while they await their visas. If you or your community is interested in advocating for SIV's, check out No One Left Behind and Veterans for American Ideals.  Please contact these organizations, AND write to your legislators expressing support for SIV cases.

Greater NYC Families for Syria, (GNYC4Syria)

GNYC4Syria remarkably developed from a single Facebook post that turned into a volunteer group of over 2,500 people from the tri-state area who support refugees here and abroad. On their FB page,  GNYC4Syria identifies and shares meaningful volunteer opportunities in support of local refugees as well as the global refugee crisis. We strongly recommend that you join their FB page devoted to aiding refugees through social media outreach.

Contact: Amber Lewis,, Tel. 847.274.5017


Facebook page: Greater NYC Families for Syria

Hello Neighbor 

Hello Neighbor is a Pittsburgh based mentorship program where neighbors are matched with a refugee family.  Visit the site for more information about starting a Hello Neighbor program in your community.  The HHR/WRI "Refugee Booster Program" will be modeled after Hello Neighbor.


Integrated Refugees & Immigrant Services (IRIS)

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) helps refugees and other displaced people establish new lives, regain hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut's communities.  IRIS accomplishes this in New Haven and 40+ communities throughout Connecticut.  IRIS also promotes its community co-sponsorship model beyond Connecticut in hopes that many more communities will have the joy of personally welcoming and working with refugees in their hometowns.  
Volunteers and organizations in Westchester County are working with IRIS and their refugees in meaningful ways.
Learn more about their programs and how you and your faith group, neighbors, family or civic/social groups can get involved with support of a family or an IRIS program.
Contact:  Ann O'Brien, Director of Community Engagement

NuDay Syria Container Drive - Send aid to Syria

In October 2017 Hearts and Homes for Refugees collected urgently needed donations.  Thanks to generous neighbors near and far, 10,000 lbs of donations were collected, sorted and packed in Pelham on October 21, 25 and 28 and loaded onto trucks November 4-5 for delivery to an awaiting container in New Hampshire.  On November 12 the container of donations collected throughout New England was shipped with the aid of our partner NuDay Syria whose 'boots on the ground' in Syria provide access and meaningful aid to this war-torn country. The container has arrived in Turkey and is ready for the final leg of the trip into Syria where donations will be distributed to displaced Syrians in refugees in camps and hospitals.  Be among those in the Greater NYC area (HHR, Neighbors for Refugees and GNYC4Syria) to organize your own container drive.

For details on how to organize your own Container drive,  contact NuDay Syria and feel free to borrow from HHR's planning and execution  Pelham to Syria Winter Donations. For more on the story, read here: HHR/NuDay Syria Winter Donations Drive.

Needs List

Discover direct ways to help refugees and displaced people through the organization, Needs List.
We have an aid system in need of aid. Our current institutions can't keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for people displaced by conflict and climate change.  NeedsList addresses the need for massive innovation in the humanitarian sector with a marketplace connecting local NGOs with individual and corporate donors.  NGOs in the field can list itemized needs for goods, services, or donations in real time.  Donors can immediately meet needs by purchasing directly from local suppliers on NeedsList, donating funds, and completing tasks.
Contact: Natasha Friedus 
+33 6 68 87 47 06
+1 (206) 201-2688
Skype: tashafr
Read about NeedsList in  Forbes and the Philadelphia Inquirer
Meet this week's urgent needs here. 
FINALIST: Philly Geek Awards, Stellar Startup Awards, U.S. Chivas Venture
WINNER: Village Capital / Ben Franklin Technology Partners Fintech Accelerator
Needs List

NuDay Syria

NuDay Syria is a New England-based organization that provides aid to displaced Syrians abroad, with special regards given towards aiding Syrian women and girls amidst the crisis. Communities that choose to partner with them hold local donation drives for goods which are sent to (and actually arrive in) Syria in large containers. Our partners in resettlement, GNYC4S, and Neighbors for Refugees have held NuDay Syria donation drives in Westchester County. In addition to Container Drives, NuDay Syria provides education and other on-site support in Syria.  Learn more about ways to support their overseas efforts.

NuDay Syria Website: 


Save the Syrian Children

Save the Syrian Children has the simple mission of saving as many women and children trapped by the war by sending life-saving medical aid to the hardest hit areas of the conflict. Partnering with a vetted network of doctors on the ground, Save the Syrian Children compiles needs lists on an ongoing basis and fulfills these by going factory direct to manufacturers in China or by receiving in-kind donations in the United States. By carving a safe corridor into Syria, goods arrive in the hands of doctors in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo (Northern Syria) and in Quneitra and Daraa (Southern Syria). Since the first shipment left the port of Shanghai in March 2017, Save the Syrian Children has delivered over 1 million units of medical supplies, totaling over $29 million dollars. Save the Syrian Children is run by volunteers only with zero overhead costs.

Students for Refugees (SFR)

SFR is a network of 20 schools (and growing) that has been the dynamic force for tapping into students’ uncanny ability to enact change. Through their three main projects of: Resettlement, Advocacy and Education, and a large fundraising effort to establish a refugee school in Jordan, SFR provides students with a direct path to aid in this humanitarian crisis.  SFR is looking to add new student members and to build more chapters in area high schools.

Contact: Axel Ahdritz,


Welcome Home

Welcome Home is a volunteer group in Jersey City, New Jersey partnering the Resettlement Agency,  Church World Service to support arriving refugees.  If you live in the area and have time or donations to offer, contact Welcome Home or go to Church World Service

PARTNERS In the Grassroots Movement

American Muslim Women's Association (AMWA)

AMWA has been a partner to various co-sponsor and host organizations in Westchester County and is devoted to understanding Islam and the status of women within the religion. AMWA’s mission is to promote the values of Islam and increase community awareness by organizing various educational, social and intellectual forums in New York, as well as serve the community by mitigating domestic violence and organizing awareness programs. CONTACT: Fozia Khan  


Sarah Lawrence College

Mara Gross, Director, Office of Community Partnerships


Janet Reilly, Director of Refugee Initiatives, 


“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”  –Helen Keller