Early in 2022, we featured a post by Hannah Thompson, World Relief Chicagoland’s Immigrant Family Services Volunteer Coordinator who works with the staff and community volunteers who serve asylum seekers through the H.O.M.E. Program. Now, Hannah is back, sharing what has changed since January.
First, what is the H.O.M.E. Program?
World Relief Chicagoland created the H.O.M.E. Program because we know that asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable immigrants. Though many have similar experiences as refugees and may have also fled their homes seeking safety, life in the U.S. looks very different. Asylum seekers do not have the same financial support as refugees. Instead, they must wait for their asylum case to be heard and for the U.S. to make a legal decision about whether they can become asylees. This can be a long process that takes months or years. And during that time, asylum seekers are socially, financially, and legally vulnerable.
Over the years, World Relief has seen countless asylum seekers become vital, contributing members of the community after being granted asylum and staying in the U.S. permanently as “asylees.” Yet while they wait, too many experience poverty, homelessness, or deep debt.
The H.O.M.E. Program is the chance to form a supportive community safety net for asylum seekers during this temporary stage of their immigration journey. H.O.M.E. provides Housing, Opportunity, Mutuality (Transformative relationships), and Empowerment for asylum seekers. With the support of volunteers who help provide short-term rental assistance and relational support, asylum-seeking families gain the chance to rebuild their lives – instead of remaining in limbo while they wait for their asylum case to be heard.
An October Update from the H.O.ME. Front
News from the H.O.M.E. Front
It is hard to believe that we are coming up on the two-year anniversary of launching the H.O.M.E. Program! Right now, I am looking back in amazement at all that has happened and how many special moments have emerged just in the last year!
As of October 2022:
- We have served 13 asylum-seeking families through the H.O.M.E. Program!
- 12 local churches have donated financially to cover rent costs, led the way in volunteering as teams to support families, or both!
There is one particularly beautiful relationship I’ve seen blossom. One of our church volunteer teams recently matched with a family living in their neighborhood. When the family and the team first met, the family was expecting their first child: a baby girl! To help the family prepare and celebrate, the team came together. They collected donations. And they even hosted a baby shower for the family!
As the baby’s birth date drew closer, the volunteers drove the family to and from the hospital. They were some of the first people to meet the new, healthy baby girl!
Being a new parent is a big learning curve. It’s an even bigger challenge for those already navigating a new country! Thankfully, the team, loaded with their own personal parenting experience, has been a ready source of support for navigating life with a newborn and for the new mom as she manages post-partum recovery. Without the H.O.M.E. Program and World Relief Chicagoland’s church partners, the family would not have had friends to support them in this new chapter or a home to bring their daughter to. We are so grateful to see this relationship flourish!
You Can Join in Welcoming Families H.O.M.E.
Volunteer teams and financial supporters like you ensure that asylum-seeking families reach important milestones like the birth of a baby, celebrating a new job, and more! With our H.O.M.E. partners, asylum seekers can move forward in life without worrying about how to pay rent or being at risk of homelessness.
World Relief Chicagoland needs more partners to walk alongside asylum seekers. Whether by volunteering, giving rent assistance, or both, you can make the difference and help welcome families “home.”
Learn more about the H.O.M.E. Program and how you can get involved here!
Together, we can support asylum seekers as they seek safety.