Our goal is to create the organizational networks of interfaith communities and institutions of higher education to help resettle and welcome forcibly displaced people in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Towards this end, we initiated the formation of the Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance and started several projects to engage with the local community.
Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance (MHRSA)
The Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance is a unique alliance of local faith-based organizations, institutions of higher learning, social services agencies, NGOs and local interfaith councils. The alliance is committed to working towards making our community a welcoming and safe place for those who are forcibly displaced.
- Vassar Refugee Solidarity and MHRSA have worked closely with Church World Services (a refugee resettlement agency) to convince the U.S. State Department to open a resettlement office in Poughkeepsie.
- This application was approved in October 2016, and we welcomed a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Mid-Hudson Valley in early February, 2017.
- Since the new administration’s shift in limiting the arrival of refugees, we have focused our energies on working with those forcibly displaced in our local community, reaching out to Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and assisting refugee families in Albany.
- Vassar students took leadership in collecting, storing and distributing furniture, household goods and other items for arriving refugee families and families with similar needs in the local community.
Vassar Refugee Solidarity organized together with Vassar Temple, Masjid Al-Noor, and Christ Episcopal Church the resettlement of an Egyptian family. This resettlement was accomplished solely by local volunteers with the help of VRS and Posse veteran Pat DeYoung who was key in organizing this.
Vassar Refugee Solidarity’s Resettlement (led by our Posse veteran Patrick DeYoung), Vassar Temple, and Masjid Al-Noor also coordinated a large-scale donation drive for 47 Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugee families. Vassar Temple gave $3,000 in gift cards, Masjid Al-Noor donated thousands of dollars to deliver air conditioners, freezers, fridges, televisions, pedestal fans, meat grinders (so the women can start street food businesses), sewing machines, bus tickets, backpacks, baby strollers, baby car seats, and cribs as well as additional gift cards for food, and clothing. A used car was also donated by a member of Vassar Temple. VRS’s Patrick DeYoung and representatives from the mosque also organized a caravan and delivered many smaller items in person, including 14 used laptops and desktop computers made available by Vassar College.
Albany Community and School Fundraising Project
- Since January, over 44 families from Syria and Iraq have resettled in Albany and surrounding communities.
- Each of these displaced families has endured a rigorous two year screening process by the US government prior to their arrivals.
- The State Department prioritizes families with children, and these recently arrived families include nearly 200 young and school age children. Many of these families arrived in the last 6-8 months and possess limited English language skills.
- The Annur Islamic School in Schenectady, NY is raising tuition funds to support the enrollment of recently resettled children as well as provide them with basic educational supplies.
- New York For Syrian Refugees is a volunteer group based in Albany helping newly arrived Syrian refugee families with essential needs, including assistance with housing, education, and employment.
What You Can Do
All of the profits raised today will help provide the refugee community with necessities such as: feminine hygiene products; winter clothes; childcare products; school supplies. There are two ways to help:
- Contribute to the Mid-Hudson Refugee Welcome Fund at the Community Funds of the Hudson Valley.
- The fund is administered by the Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance and goes to providing the families resettled in the Hudson Valley with housing and educational support during their integration into the community.
- Contribute directly to the Annur Islamic School in Schenectady, NY.
- For more information on the alliance or how you can get involved in these efforts, please visit the MHRSA website.
Vassar Refugee Solidarity is working with Lisa Kaul in the newly created Office of Community Engaged-Learning at Vassar and our local partners to institute projects that engage Vassar students with forcibly displaced individuals in the local community.
Our Stories, Our Selves
- This project collects oral histories from members of the Mid-Hudson Valley community in an effort to highlight that most have come from elsewhere to make this community their own. We will be reaching out to high schools and senior citizen homes to expand this collection.