Volunteerism can be a rewarding experience and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish our mission without the dedication and hard work of those who find it in their hearts to give their time to help others. Meet Pastor Eric Faret of Gainesville, VA, Maariyah Khalid of Mc Lean, VA , and Milly Asherov of Washington, D.C. They volunteered with LSSNCA over the past two years, supporting different programs. From welcoming Afghan Allies to growing awareness about our new Transitional Foster Care (TFC) program, their time, enthusiasm, and dedication added new friendly faces to our growing welcoming community. Our digital and social media specialist, Kia Folsom, spoke with them about their experiences below!
How did you come to volunteer with LSSNCA?
Pastor Faret: While waiting for a call to a church, I wanted to keep busy volunteering for a worthy social ministry program. Then, I saw the opportunity to serve through the Lutheran church.
Maariyah: I had looked up how to help Afghan refugees over a year ago with the crisis going on in Afghanistan. It had really touched my heart and I wanted to look for ways to help so I did some research on Google and found some organizations [that] helped Afghans and LSSNCA was one of them!
Milly: I was introduced to LSSNCA through a course for school that asked us to partner with local organizations that do work pertaining to humanitarian aid and resettlement. I chose LSSNCA because transitional foster care was a topic that caught my interest, and the ability to do [outreach]/recruitment to get this program running were two skills that I wanted to expand.
Tell us a bit more about the LSSNCA programs you volunteered with and the work you did.
Both Pastor Faret and Maariyah volunteered with our Afghan Allies program and assisted with donations. They also accompanied clients as they “shopped” for essential needs like household items, bedsheets, and basic toiletries. They’d mark what each client received on their “shopping” list as they walked through our Virginia “store”
Milly: I volunteered for the transitional foster care program in Virginia. Our work was reaching out to potential donors for supplies and care items, as well as potential foster care parents. At first, we focused on reaching out to other churches and organizations that LSSNCA already built partnerships with, and slowly expanding to the greater area. The coolest part was contacting and crafting a piece for a newspaper…. The transitional foster care program … support[s] children who arrived [in] the area without family to live with, as their family was located or contacted, creating a space and environment that gave them a loving home and even the routine of attending school with LSSNCA. We needed resources, connections to parents and support from the community to get this program running.
What were you hoping to get out of your volunteer experience, and how did it go?
Pastor Faret: I love putting my faith into action by welcoming newly arrived people to the US. However, I wanted to see my efforts positively impact others. I loved greeting our new neighbors in their language, helping to form a bond of acceptance and trust. So many appreciated simple but kind gestures of care and love, especially during stressful moments. I loved seeing the smiles on the children when I gave them a teddy bear or other donated toys. Learning and trying to speak greetings/words in their home languages was humbling, but our neighbors appreciated my efforts.
Maariyah: I always wanted to help refugees as it’s something that I’m really passionate about. Moreover, I wanted to gain the experience in how to speak and communicate with individuals who have been displaced and practice how to best help them best readjust to the U.S. through helping them with their basic necessities. I felt I was able to do this because I understood how to best assist them in their shopping needs based on their cultural preferences and how to also give them the patience they needed while shopping. Sometimes volunteering wasn’t easy for me because I felt empathy for these people and sometimes you hear their stories, or sometimes you have back-to-back clients who request immediate assistance…. I appreciate my fellow volunteers I worked alongside who helped assist clients and also brought in supplies from the Amazon list when we were in short supply of products to provide for families.
Milly: I was looking to get a better feel of the community in the DMV area, and to learn about the role that an organization such as LSSNCA plays in helping the community meet their basic needs. I feel like I accomplish[ed] my goals through this volunteer experience and being able to not only learn about the vision for the transitional foster care program, but also connect the community to this new program allowed me to meet people and grow the vision.
What did you enjoy about volunteering with LSSNCA?
Pastor Faret: LSSNCA walks the walk of being disciples of Jesus Christ, helping those in need.
Maariyah: [T]here are aspects to the organization that were newer when I started volunteering in November 2021, and although many of the case managers and volunteers were under pressure, the organization as a whole really promoted the well-being of the individuals helping the clients who are in need, and ultimately wants to best serve the clients and help them as much as they can.
Milly:LSSNCA is a good organization to volunteer with because the systems in place are very clear, meeting purpose and project visions are made clear from the beginning. They connect what you care about to their work in a flexible way that allows you to work on ideas you care about!
Do you plan on volunteering with LSSNCA again?
Pastor Faret: I will support LSSNCA.
Maariyah: Yes I will!
Milly: I hope so!
If you’re interested in volunteering, our greatest need right now is assisting at our new client Resource Center! Sign-up for slots today here.