For some people, the United States seems like paradise, a safe haven where they can live their lives however they want. That’s because in their countries, they may be suffering from war, poverty, starvation and so on. In 2018, about 25 million people fled their countries, searching for safety for themselves and their kids. Of those 25 million refugees, fewer than 25,000 were admitted to the U.S. Thankfully for them, there is a nonprofit organization that helps resettle refugees to America. The organization is called World Relief, and its members are waiting with open arms. They’ve been providing assistance to victims of poverty, disease, hunger, domestic violence and war for over 70 years. The organization was originally founded by a church group in New York City because they wanted to help people in war-torn Europe around the time of World War II.

The people who work for World Relief all have a different role to play, from the CEO and president to the volunteers. In Winston-Salem, World Relief volunteers are overseen by Connie Chandler, and she teaches them how to assist immigrants. She has been a member of the Volunteer Services Team for one and a half years. She got her degree in Teaching English as a Second Language and she wanted to use that skill to help immigrants. She did that for a few years as a volunteer until she was put in charge of the volunteer program.

“My favorite part about this job is getting to meet people who want to help, but they don’t really know how, and watching them learn and grow. I also like how it’s not just a small group of people, the whole community helps and gets involved,” Chandler said.

Speaking of getting the community involved, World Relief gets groups of volunteers to do service projects. For example, a group goes to their warehouse and organizes donations of clothing, furniture and household items that will be given to refugees. “We were trying to think of a way to make it a powerful and worthwhile experience for them,” Chandler stated. So at every station, they would talk to them about where the donations would be going and why it was important. While they organized kitchen supplies, for instance, they would remind the volunteers that all of the supplies would be going into someone’s home, where people cook, eat and hang out. They want to encourage them to think that they’re helping people who might have been starving, or not had a fridge to keep their food in before. This shows that even small acts like these are helpful.

Anyone who wants to help can help.

Going back to immigration, the number of refugees coming to the U.S. has slowed down in the past couple of years because of changes in government policy, but according to Chandler, that hasn’t stopped World Relief from providing assistance. “Even though the numbers have slowed down, we haven’t. We used to help people for about the first six months, then move on to the next batch of people, but since the numbers have slowed down, we’ve been going back to some people who have been here a few years and checking up on them and making sure they are doing OK,” Chandler asserted.

The life of immigrants is hard, and it can also be hard for us to help them. That’s why World Relief is so impactful. They make immigrants feel like they’re at home in a new environment with new people.

If you don’t know how to help, World Relief does. Whether you’re a staff member, volunteer or community worker, whether you’re donating, engaging at your church or teaching immigrants, World Relief helps you to find the best role to play. Do you know what your role is?

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Jeremy Rallings is an eighth-grader at the Arts-Based School of Winston-Salem.

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