At the end of January, you and your families, along with LSSNCA teammates, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, and our Board of Directors cut the ribbon to open the Resource Center. Designed to be a community hub for LSSNCA program participants, and local nonprofits, we’re excited to catch you up with what’s been happening. Since that day, more than 850 program participants have come through the Resource Center for shopping experiences, legal workshops, and other community bonding events.
None of this could be possible without your support. Whether that be financial donations, in-kind donations, or the countless volunteer hours spent making this dream a reality. Thanks to your ongoing support, we knew we could better serve program participants – to start – and, hopefully down the line, have a center where all those seeking any form of immigration relief can come for in-kind essentials and workshops.
Several dozen volunteers from churches, companies, and individuals signing-up to help alongside LSSNCA teammates sorted donations, filled racks, built the tables and chairs program participants currently use, and decorated the childcare corner. It all came together because of you.
We’re able to offer individualized client “shopping” experiences for program participants who come in person and have a volunteer assist them as they “shop” for diapers, dishes, cleaning essentials, try on items of their choosing in the dressing room, and sit down for a chat and snack before heading home. Thanks to volunteers and our logistic coordinators, packages of needed items can also be delivered to program participants’ homes who can’t make it to the Center.
We’ve hosted multiple legal clinics like asylum application review workshops, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) filing workshops. (There’s a call out in our newsletter for translators and legal volunteers to help with the latter!)
In the evenings and on weekends, we’ve cleared the aisles for paint nights and family night out events welcoming new neighbors from Maryland and Virginia to enjoy entertainment, arts and crafts, snacks, and getting to know one another. In the coming months, we’ll also begin hosting cultural orientation and ESL classes for program participants.
We can’t express how grateful we are for you for helping us create and get the Resource Center off to a good start! We’re humbled to shake the hands in which your donations directly go, and look forward to you joining us in the experience one day!
Here are a few stories of the impact you’ve made:
Luz* is a CARE for Newcomers program participant, and while she was referred to LSSNCA for mental health services, it was clear that she and her three children needed additional support. Recently arrived from Central America, the single mom, who is an asylum-seeker and not eligible for government benefits, was struggling to provide for herself and her three children – the youngest, Ana* is 8 years old and joined Luz at the Resource Center. LSSNCA staff and volunteers welcomed mom and daughter for their appointment, and it was quite the day! They each picked out several items to try on. Many of Luz’s items happened to be donated by someone present at the Resource Center that day who recalls that her “heart swelled” watching Luz and Ana put on a fashion show and fill their arms with much needed items that most importantly, they chose and reflected their style and personality. Ana also went on a mini spree filling up a backpack with books and toys! A few days after their visit, Luz told her case manager that she “left [the Resource Center] feeling like a person again. To just go and be treated in such a respectful way lifted [her] spirits as [she’s] going through a really difficult time right now.”
LSSNCA also provided shopping experiences for three generations of a family living in Maryland. After years apart, a mom, Veronica*, and one of her young daughters, Maria*, reunited and moved in with an older child who had recently had a baby. After speaking with her case manager, it became clear that Veronica and her family could benefit from the Resource Center’s services. At the Resource Center, Maria was overjoyed trying on clothes and took a particular liking to a pair of chunky boots she wore around the rest of the appointment, while also clinging to a big fluffy dog someone had kindly donated! The new mom was able to get diapers and other care items for her baby, as well as first aid kits, thermometers, and more for the entire family to use in their shared basement apartment. They piled into the car with bags of essentials, smiling, waving, and saying thank you as they drove off.
The Center has also been the primary resource for home set-ups for recently resettled refugee families in Woodbridge, VA, as one of our main partnering organizations doesn’t cover that area. Currently, we’re down to just a handful of toothbrushes for kids, blankets, pillows, and bedsheets (sizes Queen and Twin preferred), and would greatly benefit from new supplies in addition to gift cards to Walmart, Dollar Tree, Target or Visa branded cards to replenish the needed items.
Thank you for always getting involved and being such a welcoming community!