Consider an on-going or one-time contribution to one or both of two new funds created to assist refugees in Northampton, including Albert, Maombi and Wilson, with housing costs
Two new funds
One, being launched by the combined circles of care of Northampton in conjunction with Catholic Charities resettlement agency, is the Welcome Home Northampton housing subsidy fund. The other is a crowd-funding effort by one of the members of our St. John’s Circle of Care. The first is aimed at supporting all refugee families (currently four but with more on the way) in Northampton based on need. The other is focused on the needs of the family we are supporting through the St. John’s Circle of Care. Cindy Tolan, along with her partner Alison Smith, both now very active members of the Circle, gave their house to the family to live in for the first two and half months they were here. Cindy now has reached out to her personal and professional network in New York City and Brooklyn for contributions.
Northampton rental costs (an average $1,500 per month for a two bedroom) are beyond reach for families just getting an economic foothold here. Catholic Charities from its own resources provides a subsidy that diminishes through the first year and then disappears. Albert, Maombi and Wilson have a two bedroom apartment at Meadowbrook in Florence that rents at market $915 per month, about half of family income (not including food stamps) at this point. Albert has a full-time job as a dishwasher at PULSE Café Hadley. They started in July paying $130 per month rent and are now up to forking over $400 per month, and their percentage will continue to rise. The new housing funds are intended to keep rental costs down to about a third of income until the refugee families make financial gains – perhaps three years. The Welcome Home Northampton drive seeks $50,000 for year one.
Northampton’s Support Network
The goal of our St. John’s Circle of Care and of the combined Circles of Care in Northampton, in conjunction with staff at the resettlement program at Catholic Charities, is to enable all refugee families resettled here to remain living in a city where they have the benefit of a strong network of support to enable them to make their way into American society.
That network includes excellent language learning programs (at the Center for New Americans where Albert and Maombi have been studying and the International Language Institute directed by St. John’s own Carolyn Gear); a progressive school system (which includes a home visiting program Wilson will be benefiting from); excellent day care options (Miriam Fathallah’s home day care in Florence has proven a perfect fit for Wilson and has provided hundreds of pro bono hours); educational and employment opportunities (Albert’s employer Pulse Café in Hadley, River Valley Market, UMass) ; cultural richness and a commitment to diversity; a generous and progressive business community (thousands in contributions to date from many businesses); political support from the mayor on down; a strong and creative social services network (including the Reach program which is providing services to Wilson through the family day care ); plentiful skillful and caring volunteers who have formed multiple “circles of care” to provide ongoing logistical and social support to families; excellent medical facilities (Northampton Area Pediatrics where Wilson and the baby will be seen) and caring medical practitioners (including many in our circle of care) to name just some.
Gift to us
The scores of people involved in the circles of care, which are now reaching out to displaced Puerto Rican families, would attest to the great benefit the city is deriving from having these future citizens in our midst. They are hard-working, thrifty, community-minded good neighbors, and loving parents.
Gift to them
One more asking
Meanwhile, St. John’s continues to maintain a Refugee Relief Fund which has housing assistance as one of its uses, but which also has been used for assistance with transportation costs, certain one-time tech expenses, interpretation/translation services, assisting the family to pay off debt for travel expenses to come to this country, day care costs for Wilson, and miscellaneous other one-time expenditures. The family has had a state-supported day care voucher, but this only meets a portion of expenses at the day care center, and at this moment the voucher is up in the air. Contributions to this fund also are welcome.
Thanks and Happy Epiphany.
St. John’s Episcopal Church Circle of Care