UUFR’s Immigrant and Refugee Justice Ministry Team, along with other UUFR members and outside partners, has adjusted and been able to continue our work despite COVID-19 restrictions. In March our team collected 50 letters handwritten by UUFR members that were sent to the UU Social Justice Immigration Team and Advocacy Corps in Washington DC. The letters urged immediate action on legislation providing a pathway to permanent legal status for people holding temporary protected status (TPS). UU volunteers in DC delivered over 1,700 constituent letters (including ours) to 53 Senate offices and conducted 15 meeting with Senate staff.
Prior to the “Stay at Home” order, several UUFR members were volunteering regularly at US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) Raleigh office. Volunteer activity includes teaching English as a second language, clerical and reception duties, transportation, and tutoring. During the Stay at Home several UUFR members are assisting refugee children with their online school assignments.
The team has developed a new program, Saturday Partners, and one session was held before the COVID restrictions. UUFR members met on site at an apartment complex that has a high concentration of refugees. Working with Lutheran Services of North Carolina, our team plans to meet regularly with residents who need some direction or information about getting services, helping with school or other issues. One family came to the first session for information about child care. UUFR members were able to provide a list of nearby centers and which ones had Head Start programs.
In May, the team responded to a request to provide support for four local refugee families with newborn babies. UUFR members donated cases of baby wipes, and diapers as well as a used bassinet with linens, handmade sweaters, baby toys and other items.