UPDATE: November 2022

As many of you know, our church has one team assisting and sponsoring a family seeking asylum and another group of volunteers, led by Julie Gilkinson, who have been working with an Afghan refugee family (Mom, Dad and 4 children, including a recent newborn baby) since last December, 2021.  This group was one of the community sponsorship teams led by Catholic Charities and though our official commitment with Catholic Charities ended in June, there are still a handful of the team helping with paperwork, transportation and English tutoring with the family.   There is a current need for more community sponsorship teams, so if there is another group interested in this type of support and service, please contact Catholic Charities.  You can find out more by clicking on these links: Community Sponsorship Volunteer Information Sheet and Volunteers Needed Flier


First UU Church has become a sponsoring faith community, meaning that we will work with Refugee Resettlement of Catholic Charities to offer support and resources for a family. For more information on our partnership with Catholic Charities, visit their website HERE.

Refugee Resettlement: Update on Family Sponsorship and ways to help

Our Community Sponsorship group has formed! The leadership of the team consists of Julie Gilkinson (lead), Molly Dingel & Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer. We have 18 volunteers in our group including 2 non-UUs. We are grateful and proud of wide participation within and beyond our church. The Community Sponsorship Program with Catholic Charities requires training which our volunteers completed and a 6 month commitment to supporting the family and assisting with their adjustment to life in our community.

Our group was paired with a family in mid-December, 2021. Several of us assisted Catholic Charities on December 16-18,  getting the apartments that had finally been secured, ready for the families to move into. Catholic Charities provided the basic living supplies and then on Dec.20th, twelve of our group met the family and assisted in moving their  belongings and our volunteers’ donations into the apartment.

The family comes from the Panjshir region NE of Kabul- mountainous & very beautiful. They speak Dari and Persian, but not English, which makes communication a challenge, but they are eager learners. The family consists of two adult parents and three children (ages 5, 8 and 10).

During the past 3 months, various visits have taken place as we have begun their cultural and English education: flash cards, trips to Halal grocery stores, better outfitting them for winter weather, introducing them to public transport, providing transportation to medical appointments, going sledding, shopping, etc. The two older children started at their Riverside Newcomers classes a couple days prior to the district going to online learning in late January. The father acquired employment in mid-February.  We have been assisting the mother with an online class at Hawthorne and supplementing with work on learning letters, numbers, writing and some conversational phrases.

There are still ways for others to help.  If you need more information or can donate any of the following, please contact Julie Gilkinson or the church office.

– used small bike (good working condition) with training wheels for 5 year old boy
– used bike (good working condition) for 8 year old daughter; small child’s helmet & bike lock
– helmet and lock for 10 year old boy

Julie Gilkinson jlgilkinson@gmail.com
First UU Office office@uurochmn.org

Thank you!

Past Meeting Recordings

Sunday, November 21, 2021
Refugee Resettlement Volunteer Meeting
The purpose of this meeting is to go over volunteer training requirements as well as how volunteering will work – logistics, tasks, etc. Click HERE to view the recording.