The COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on the local once-refugee population, and a massive impact on Open Doors as well.
More than half of the former-refugees, most of whom work(ed) in entry level jobs in the service sector, have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Given the low wages of these jobs, few had a financial buffer to fall back on. In response, Open Doors has set up an Emergency Funding Program to help them. However, the need is very large and the amount we have to offer is very small. If you would like to make a contribution to help support these families, please do so here. Thank you!
Early in the pandemic the U.S. suspended admission of all refugees; open doors we’re not! With no refugees arriving, our two storage areas of furniture and household items have filled to capacity, and we’re not able to accept any more donations of these items until the doors are open, new refugees start arriving, and we start setting up apartments again. In the meantime, our Donations and Move-In teams are idle.
Additionally, the social-distancing requirements have radically changed how most of our teams operate.
- The Transportation team, which focuses on and gets our newest arrivals to the myriad appointments their first weeks here and teaches them to use the bus system, has largely come to a halt.
- ESL classes have become ESL conversations and have gone online or on the phone. There is no need for the childcare that we used to provide to class participants.
- The Employment team does much of their consultation and support online or on the phone.
- The Home Supply team, which had monthly purchased and delivered home supplies (products you can’t buy with FoodShare) every month to new arrivals for the first year they are here, is now purchasing and providing gift cards to the families. Given the difficulty the newer families face, we have continued this service to these families beyond their initial year and have not ended this service to the folks who were on it when the pandemic hit.
- The Events team has had to cancel all group events, including the annual Summer Picnic (otherwise scheduled for June 21), and the annual Naturalization Ceremony, held in conjunction with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in September. Likewise, our bi-monthly Introductory Meetings for those interested in learning about Open Doors have been put on hold. No decision has been made yet about the annual Thanksgiving Dinner that we host.
Please note: Our team descriptions on the Teams page still reflect our pre-COVID status, which hopefully we’ll return to soon.
While many of our volunteer opportunities are on hold, the Employment team is looking for help, and the ESL team would like more conversation partners. Also we are partnering with Jewish Social Services, which received a donation of 35 Chromebooks, to teach people how to use them. If you are interested in volunteering with Open Doors in any of these capacities, or have other ideas you’d like to propose, please contact OpenDoorsVolunteers@gmail.com. Thanks.