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WRI Factsheet

What is the Westchester Refugee Initiative?

Spearheaded by Hearts and Homes for Refugees, the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) is a coalition of agencies, community groups and individuals that support refugee resettlement in Westchester County.

Since 2016 there has been both a groundswell of grassroots support for welcoming refugees to Westchester County and a slowdown in resettlement due to the bans and legislation designed to dismantle the U.S. refugee program. Despite the challenges, there are more than two dozen groups and 2,000 volunteers and supporters in Westchester County looking for opportunities to keep the welcoming movement alive by getting involved in small or large ways.

Our voices are louder and actions stronger when we work together. WRI brings together this grassroots movement through a collection of actions to support refugees in their integration and assimilation as new Americans.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

How Do We Support Refugees?

Direct Support 

Helping Hands for Refugees

Helping Hands for Refugees is a pilot program of the Westchester Refugee Initiative that connects refugees, asylees and Special Immigration Visa holders (SIVs) with volunteers.  As part of the HHR/WRI goal to welcome and integrate refugees in Westchester County, Helping Hands provides short-term assistance to refugees and related populations. Together with our partners, Catholic Charities and HIAS, we identify the needs and support volunteer vetting and training. Hearts and Homes for Refugees matches volunteers (groups, families and individuals) with these refugees, asylees and SIVs.


The Westchester Refugee Initiative is also a platform for amplified advocacy and  resource-sharing. From petitions to postcard parties, the WRI Advocacy Toolkit provides members with guidelines and instructions to participate in actions that support refugee resettlement in the U.S. and a dignified, just immigration policy. Volunteers are invited to become Ambassadors for refugee resettlement in their local community. 

Current issues:

  • Calling on Congress to increase the ceiling for refugees in FY 2019
  • Calling for just and humane treatment of asylum seekers
  • Ensuring that Congress provide for Special Immigrant Visa program                                                   


Welcoming Week 2018, September 14-23

WRI has coordinated the first Welcoming Week in Westchester County. This is part of a nation-wide movement to demonstrate solidarity with refugees and other new Americans. This is the perfect opportunity to launch a year of renewed vigor around bringing together refugees, immigrants and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming. 

To see a list of 2018 Welcoming Week events in Westchester, click here.

WRI Newsletters

WRI’s monthly newsletter shares what is happening and resources available in refugee welcoming across the county.  


Follow us on Twitter for the latest news, facts and advocacy actions related to refugees.


Join our ever-growing community of individuals supporting refugees in Westchester.

WRI Members

Hearts and Homes for Refugees, Pelham (coordinator)

Catholic Charities of New York

HIAS New York

American Muslim Women's Association

Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains

Ethical Culture Society of Westchester

First Unitarian Society of Westchester (FUSW)

Inter-Faith Council for New Americans Westchester (ICNAW)

Beth El Synagogue (New Rochelle), Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, Ethical Cultural Society of Westchester, New Rochelle United Methodist Church, Temple Israel of New Rochelle, Temple Israel Center of White Plains

Neighbors for Refugees, Larchmont/Mamaroneck

PART One (Pleasantville Armonk Resettlement Team)

Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Pleasantville Community Synagogue

Rivertowns for Refugees

Irvington Presbyterian Church, Temple Beth Shalom, Social Action for 10591, Irvington High School, Our Lady of Pompeii, Temple Beth Shalom Social Action, St. Barnabas, Grace Episcopal, Hastings NY, Christ Episcopal Church, Zion Episcopal Dobbs Ferry, Irvington Activists, Temple Beth Abraham, Greenburgh Hebrew Center, Sacred Heart, Reformed Church of Tarrytown, All Saints Episcopal Church Briarcliff, South Presbyterian Church, St. Matthew & Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Christ Episcopal Church & San Marcos

Sisters of the Divine Compassion (RDC)

Students for Refugees

Founded by Scarsdale High School, with branches in the following Westchester High Schools: Ardsley, Blind Brook, Hackley, Horace Mann, Irvington, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye Country Day School. Branches also in other cities across the country and in Europe.

Woodlands-Bet Am Shalom, White Plains

Sister Organizations and Groups Supporting Refugee Resettlement in Westchester County

Capuchin Franciscans

Community Church of the Pelhams

Community Synagogue of Rye

Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, Rye

JCC Harrison

Greater NYC Families for Syrians

Hugenot Memorial Church of the Pelhams

Interfaith Committee for Refugee Resettlement, Rye

Christ's Church, Rye Presbyterian and Rye Community Synagogue

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Ossining

Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees

Northern Westchester Interfaith Coalition for Refugee Resettlement

Northwest Yonkers Neighbors for Refugees

Riverdale Bronx Interfaith Coalition

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville

St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mamaroneck

Veterans for American Ideals

Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale

White Plains-Scarsdale Refugee Resettlement Group

Congregation Kol Ami, Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-el

WRI Partners and Supporters

The Pelham Picture House

Pineapple Fund

Real New York Tours

Welcoming America

West End Collegiate Church, New York


For more information about participation in the WRI, send an email to