Recently, Jessi and Tyler joined our Taking Root team to give Mu Lah’s* family a warm welcome to Minnesota. As fellow newcomers to the Twin Cities, Jessi and Tyler were looking for a way to meet their neighbors and explore their new community. Read on to hear Jessi’s story of the blessing of friendship they received from Mu Lah’s family.
A couple of years ago my husband and I were still relatively new to Minnesota and were aching for a way to meet new people and get involved. We knew that Minneapolis/St. Paul was home to one of the nation’s largest refugee populations and felt called to refugee support services. We had just spent two years in West Africa with the Peace Corps and knew how difficult it was to adjust to a new place, culture, and pace of life. To our great fortune, we found out about MCC and the opportunity to join a Taking Root team (i.e. a group of volunteers who worked together to welcome a new refugee family).
As part of a Taking Root team, you have a lot of flexibility to work within your own schedule and personal interests. When our Taking Root team was asked to welcome a new Karen family of seven in early January, my husband and I jumped at the opportunity to help prepare their new apartment – performing basic cleaning duties, moving in new furniture, and organizing donated items. When the family arrived, our work schedules also allowed us to welcome them at the airport.
After our first meeting at the airport, we have had several wonderful opportunities to get to know the family and help them out with some of the logistical details of getting settled in a new place: registering the kids for school, researching ESL options, accompanying the family on the bus, taking the kids to the library, and giving the parents a ride to a community safety event. All the while, the family was doing so much for us: welcoming us into their home, introducing us to the Karen culture and language, and blessing us with new friendships.
Being part of a Taking Root team has been such a blessing. We have met so many new people, explored new areas of the Twin Cities, and been introduced to a fabulous organization that has made it possible for us to have a meaningful experience while also giving us the flexibility to volunteer in ways that capitalize on our talents and interests and work within our busy schedules. We hope the best for our Karen family and are so grateful to have been invited to be part of their new beginning.
Join Jessi and Tyler in welcoming new families this summer by volunteering as a Befriender or Resettlement Assistant! Contact us to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-230-3219. Our Volunteer Orientations are another great way to learn about the resettlement process and how to get involved. The next orientation will be held at MCC from 4:45-5:45 pm on August 27th.