Making a House a Home

When was the last time you moved into a new home? You probably spent several weeks packing your belongings into boxes, then several more weeks unpacking them in your new place. By filling it with familiar and comforting objects, you made it a place you can truly call “home.” Most of us are fortunate in that we could bring items with which we were already familiar: a particular couch, poster, books, an instrument, dishes, and other things which, because of the memories and experiences they represent, reflect parts of ourselves. For new refugees coming to Minnesota arriving with just a few suitcases, however, there is almost nothing familiar with which to make an empty apartment into a home. Having left an entire life behind, the intimate space of a new home in the US can feel coldly strange.

To truly extend a warm welcome to newly arriving refugees MCC Refugee Services, with the help of volunteers and donors, sets up apartments for refugees before they arrive. Although we may not provide things that make a new space familiar, we do strive to make it comforting and comfortable, providing everything a family might need from dishes and spoons to seating and extra blankets for those bitter days in January. It’s particularly special when a co-sponsorship group (a church group that has volunteered to accompany a family for the first few months in the U.S.) sets up an apartment, adding extra “homey” touches in their desire to make the apartment as welcoming as possible for the new refugee family.

For the many refugee families that don’t have a co-sponsorship group to add that extra love and care to their new home, MCC Refugee Services has launched an apartment set-up contest called Design With Purpose. Participants in Design With Purpose will be assigned an apartment for a soon-to-arrive family and charged with making the empty space a home with all of the necessary household items. Once completed, participants will submit photos to be displayed on the Refugee Services website, where set ups will be judged based on public votes and staff award categories. This is a great opportunity for some friendly competition with friends from your church, workplace, book club, or other community group!

Do you want to help make an empty apartment into a warm, welcoming home for a refugee family? Donate household goods or enter the Design With Purpose competition! Visit our website to learn about the rules and how to enter.

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