It has been an unprecedented two months at LSSNCA, which is saying a lot for an organization that has been serving the D.C. metro area for more than 100 years. We have served approximately 800 Afghan Allies through our Refugee and Immigrant Services (RIS) programs with an operational infrastructure that was set up to serve 500 forcibly displaced persons each year. Our RIS Team is working around the clock to provide Allies with essential services, like food, housing, and enrollment in public benefits; job training and placement; and direct cash assistance and in-kind donations. This effort required us to pivot and scale up overnight and is requiring an all-hands-on deck response.
We’ve been humbled and blessed by the community response thus far. We’ve received 5,300 interest forms from prospective volunteers interested in welcoming our new neighbors. As a comparison, the highest number of volunteers we’ve managed in recent years was 350. In-kind donations began arriving at our doors in record numbers in August—on some days, we’d have an Amazon truck with 200 boxes at our door every hour. We called JustServe, an organization which mobilizes professional volunteers, who came to the rescue, establishing systems for in-kind donation management and storage. Now, when our clients come to visit, they are able to “shop” our donations- picking out new vacuums, and pots and pans, and strollers, and car seats, and toiletries and other necessary household supplies for their first homes in the United States.
Area health providers, like Children’s National, Neighborhood Health, Health Works for Northern Virginia, Pediatric Specialists of Northern Virginia, and the Fairfax County Health Department came together in a day-long clinic to provide health screenings and immunizations for children of Afghan Allies, and in providing long-term health care for Allies, helping us meet critical gaps in health coverage.
This effort requires partnerships and fundraising on a much larger scale than we’ve done in the recent past, and we’ve been blessed to have received an abundance of generosity from our community-at-large. Lyft has donated $5,000 in rides for clients; Uber Eats, through a partnership with Women for Afghan Women provided $25,000 in rides and Uber Eats; Air BnB is helping to fill a critical temporary housing gap through a partnership with LIRS to provide us with $70,000 in temporary apartment/home rentals; We the Pizza and Dominoes have been feeding our frontline staff every week; Build a Bear provided 300 stuffed bears to comfort Afghan children; Amazon has provided storage trailers and a 10k community grant; Target donated $20,000 worth of in-kind hygiene products; OneHeart DC has been a great help gathering donations;
Western Fairfax Christian Ministries delivered food and laptops; and Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has raised over $600,000 to cover the funding gap in serving these newly arrived Afghan Allies
I’m continually inspired by your beautiful display of love and service for Afghan Allies and others seeking refuge and safety in our country. We would not be able to do our work of welcome without you, and we are so grateful.
Although the past two months have felt like a sprint, we have a marathon ahead of us. LSSNCA expects to serve at least 2,000 more Afghan Allies in months to come, and our service extends beyond the initial three-month resettlement period.
We will continue to need your support in our work of welcome, and we are grateful to all of you, whether you’ve been a long-time supporter of our efforts, or whether the crisis in Afghanistan inspired you to join us at the LSSNCA table. You are needed, and your smiling faces, outstretched arms, and offers of help are what allows us to tell our funders we can do more, our doors are open, and our communities are ready to welcome!