Individual volunteers are vitally important to the work of welcoming refugees, and we engage volunteers in both the Twin Cities and the Mankato area. We value our volunteers highly and strive to make matches that are good for volunteers and the people we serve. Volunteers are placed throughout the year as we have need with new arrivals.
Steps to becoming a volunteer with MCC Refugee Services:
1. Submit a Volunteer Application. You will be contacted by our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator
2. Attend a Volunteer Orientation
3. Be placed in a volunteer position!
Volunteer Positions in the Twin Cities: (click on each position title for more details)
Bus Mentors assist their refugee partner(s) in learning how to navigate the Metro Transit system by helping them understand their bus routes and discussing basics of riding the bus including how to pay fares, how to use transfers, and proper etiquette when on the bus. Bus Mentors also practice riding the bus to their partner(s) home from MCC Refugee Service’s Intensive Cultural Orientation Workshop in order to reinforce his or her partner(s) understanding of the Metro Transit system and empower them to independently ride the bus.
Community Orientation Workshops, a new initiative developed in partnership between Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services and the International Institute of Minnesota, provide life skills education for people with humanitarian protection immigrant status and who have been in the U.S. less than five years. Individual workshops cover such topics as transportation and community resources, job readiness, financial literacy, health literacy, education and family adjustment, and are designed to assist adults in their transition to life in the U.S.
Workshops are open to those of all English levels and are conducted by a lead teacher. Professional interpretation is provided as needed. Volunteers will work with individuals or small groups on reinforcement of particular skills or topics as directed by the lead teacher.
Workshops take place in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Coon Rapids. Volunteers choose the site which works best for them.
The Resettlement Assistant has an important role to play in assisting refugees and their case manager in the first few months of their new lives in the United States. Volunteers will work once or twice a week to support the Refugee Services staff complete tasks relating to new arrivals and employment services, like attending appointments or accessing basic resources.
Befriend a new neighbor with refugee status through weekly meetings over a four month period. Befriender activities will vary depending on the match, and they can include: practice riding the bus, going to the library, practicing English, shopping for groceries, writing job resumes and practicing interview questions. You will receive regular support through weekly check-ins as you help a new arrival learn about their new community. You will also learn about your friend’s home country and learn to see your home through different eyes.
When families arrive in the Twin Cities they need a safe and furnished home. Volunteers like you play an integral role in providing a comfortable home by shopping the Bridging appointments. Bridging, with locations in Roseville and Bloomington, is the largest furniture bank in the country. We shop donated furniture and household items at Bridging to provide an affordable and comfortable household for refugee families. Each appointment takes about 45 minutes and appointments are scheduled on an as-needed basis.
Volunteer in Mankato:
Community Connector: Community Connectors attend Tapestry Project, a seven week class that provides housing, parenting, safety and health education to refugees and former refugees living in the Mankato area. These individuals provide welcome, offer words of encouragement and share life experience relating to specific class topics. Community Connectors help create a thread of social connections and grow personally through their own cross-cultural learning experience. This community-facilitated approach is based on the idea that learning comes not just from a traditional classroom environment but also from the sharing of life experiences of all community members.
Co-sponsorship gives congregations and community groups the opportunity to partner in welcoming a family with refugee status to Minnesota. MCC Refugee Services leads co-sponsors in a supportive partnership in which co-sponsors assist new families for their first four months in the US and help them on the path to self-sufficiency. By offering support to new families, congregations live out God’s call to welcome the stranger, and help transform a refugee’s new country into a new home. These two videos are a great way to learn more about this opportunity.
Church Co-Sponsorship, Episcopal Migration Ministries
What is involved in co-sponsorship?
Congregations and community groups work with Refugee Services staff to help refugees get to crucial resources and learn their way around their new community. This process might include:
- Gathering essential furnishings and helping set up the family’s apartment
- Welcoming the family at the airport
- Providing transportation to initial appointments
- Assisting with school and English class registration
- Helping refugees learn their way around their new neighborhood
- Teaching the family about important local resources like libraries, parks and clinics
The most important role of a co-sponsoring congregation is to help new arrivals move towards self-sufficiency.
Who can participate?
This opportunity is open to congregations in the Twin Cities area. Congregational co-sponsorship utilizes the unique gifts, talents and resources of an entire faith community, and is steered by the efforts of a committed group within the congregation. A co-sponsorship committee is led by a coordinator, and individual members might focus on furnishings, school, employment, transportation, and hospitality. The core co-sponsorship team can range from 6-12 people. Congregations are asked to make a commitment for a 4 month period.
How are congregations supported in this work?
Congregations interested in refugee co-sponsorship begin by meeting with a Refugee Services staff member. Through a series of meetings, Refugee Services will help the congregation organize a co-sponsorship team, provide information about the needs and culture of the family, and inform the team of the family’s arrival. Refugee Services matches a congregation with a refugee family overseas after assessing the team’s needs and capabilities.
Once the refugees arrive, the co-sponsorship team works closely with the Refugee Services Volunteer and Outreach Specialist and the family’s caseworker, who serve as resources and guides through the resettlement process through weekly phone calls and monthly meetings. Congregations are mentored through the process of decreasing their support as the family becomes settled and MCC Refugee Services facilitates a closing celebration at the end of the co-sponsorship period.
Who do I contact to find out more?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-230-3219 to learn more about the co-sponsorship process or set-up an informational meeting.