After 14 months of COVID isolation, it looks like the country, the refugee resettlement program, and Open Doors for Refugees are all starting to get back on our feet.
From March 2020 until May 2021, almost no new refugees arrived in Madison (just a few individuals in September). The refugee resettlement program nationally and locally ground to a halt, as did all Open Doors’ programs that involved any direct contact with refugees or the public.
Our Transportation team delivered meals from food pantries, our ESL team moved to virtual conversation partners, our Home Supplies team went from delivering home supply products to buying and sending gift cards online, our Events team focused on individualized fund raising, and what meetings we had went virtual. Beyond that, we pivoted from providing services to providing financial support (over $30,000 in total) to families hard hit by the pandemic.
Finally, happily, and thankfully, after months of isolation and limited activity, all that is now changing.
From late April this year until early June, four new families arrived (nearly one family a week), and Open Doors, working closely with Jewish Social Services and JSS volunteers, set up fully furnished apartments for them. As our inventory of furniture and household items was rapidly depleted, we’ve had to ramp up our solicitation, collection, and storage activities.
Beyond that, our Transportation team is back to providing rides to new arrivals, the ESL team is revamping its ESL program, the Home Supply team will move back to delivering products in August, the Events team is planning the first actual convocation events this summer, and we’ll shoot to resurrect our bi-monthly Public Introductory meetings starting in August.
However, after 14 months of inactivity, it seems many of our volunteers have moved onto other interests and we are looking for help for several of our teams. If you are interested in working with us, please send an email to OpenDoorsVolunteers@gmail.com, and our volunteer coordinator will get back to you shortly.