Our History Our project began in January 2019 with the advent of the so-called "migrant caravan" at the US-Mexico border, in which the executive branch manufactured a constitutional and human rights crisis targeting Central and South American asylum-seekers. Recognizing that part of resisting the agendas of xenophobia and white nationalism is welcoming and supporting our new neighbors, we began our work to build a network of support in Western Massachusetts for asylum-seeking individuals who choose to settle here.
We’re a group of folks who have come together to support asylum seekers as best as we know how. We work with a wide array of groups in Western Mass, but are not part of any organization. We’re volunteers.
Our Current Context Our communities are proud to currently support 20 people negotiating active asylum cases. Asylum seekers are currently living with local friends and neighbors (sponsors) who have agreed to house and support them. Before arriving here, many asylum seekers have spent months in immigration detention - despite having committed no crime - before making it out to resettle in Massachusetts.
While their cases advance, there’s a lot involved in settling into a new place. There are classes and appointments and errands and check-ins. There’s loneliness and isolation. There’s a new language to learn. And though it’s ugly structures which have set this all in motion, there’s still many great relationships to build and much beauty to discover.
We’re looking to build a broad network of coordinated support, to meet the needs of our newest neighbors and the families who are taking them in. We’d love your support in making our community a truly welcoming place.
Our Structure We divide up our forms of support into three categories:
Rides Providing rides for asylum seekers to appointments, classes, check-ins. These are also great times to build relationships. Asylum seekers cannot get licenses, and helping coordinate rides is a massive help for our friends and sponsors.
Friendship Forging real connections against structures which keep us divided. Help out with English while you learn another language, go for walks and for coffee, introduce people to your favorite parts of valley life or open up your home for a meal.
Logistics Helping piece together various elements of building a new life. Each person has unique needs, and logistics supports people as they set up services (like therapy and youth soccer) and other needs (like SIM Cards and library cards).
We have a project coordinator who manages the whole project, heads for each category (rides, friendship, logistics), and a steering committee.
Our Process We gather up the needs requests from asylum seekers and sponsors, and then shepherd/assign those needs to volunteers who are able to fulfill them.
Before meeting asylum seekers and helping out, we ask all volunteers to fill out this form on our ‘Get Involved’ page, and then to attend a training of ours. This training is designed to make sure we’re all on the same page, get to know each other, and continue this work in a structured, organized manner. The training dates are listed on the form.
Our ask from you is to get involved! If you’d like to volunteer, please fill out this form. If you’ve got money, give it. If you have more you would like to share, ideas, contacts, questions, etc., contact us here.