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A Good Neighbor to Those in Need

What does it mean to be a good neighbor? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says a good neighbor is one who cares for those in need. 

At World Relief, we want to live out this example of neighborly love. That’s why, in FY23, we initiated a historic expansion of our Good Neighbor Team (GNT) program, making it available to more churches in more communities than ever before. 

GNTs are groups of six to 12 volunteers who walk alongside refugees and other vulnerable immigrants during their first six months in the U.S. GNTs make a lasting impact on the lives of newcomers who are rebuilding in the wake of conflict, disasters and immense loss.

“Starting a new life is not easy,” shared Mustafa and Dalia, refugees from Syria who were matched with a Good Neighbor Team at World Relief Chicagoland. “The [GNT] volunteers are like our family, our relatives … Once we had to go to the emergency room for one of my kids. We texted them, and they came and stayed with us. We cannot count all the times they’ve helped us like this.”

In FY23, we strengthened the GNT program by hiring additional staff and forming a community of practice for local staff supporting GNTs. We also developed new GNT trainings and resources harnessing over 25 years of experience to better equip churches and volunteers to “welcome the stranger.”

For Amy Cebulski, World Relief volunteer and donor, the support her GNT received from World Relief made all the difference. Her church in Wisconsin first began welcoming refugees during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. At the time, however, there was no resettlement agency like World Relief available to support them.

They took on the full responsibility of securing housing, accessing healthcare and benefits, navigating public transportation systems and understanding cultural and language differences. It wasn’t easy, but seeing the families rebuild their lives in safety was well worth the obstacles. 

When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021, Amy’s church felt compelled to respond again. This time, however, they weren’t alone. World Relief Fox Valley (now World Relief Wisconsin) partnered with her church to train, equip and support their volunteers as a GNT. 

“There are always people who can help [at World Relief],” Amy said. “That was really, really reassuring.” 

Going further, in June 2023, World Relief was designated as a Private Sponsorship Organization (PSO) by the Welcome Corps, a new federal program that allows everyday Americans to sponsor refugees and assist them as they resettle in the U.S. As a PSO, World Relief is expanding our GNT program to churches and volunteer groups outside the immediate vicinity of our U.S. offices. 

“We can now work with a church anywhere in the country through the Good Neighbor Team model,” said Joe McCann, Good Neighbor programs manager. “Historically, the church was at the forefront of welcoming refugees and vulnerable immigrants. We want to see that continue, and the Good Neighbor program is here to help churches do that well.”

Thank you for supporting us as we walk alongside Amy and churches like hers as they fulfill their calling to care for their neighbors in need.

Learn more about our Good Neighbor Team program and how you can be a part of welcoming refugees in your community.

Kelly Hill is the Senior Content Writer at World Relief. She previously served as Volunteer Services Manager at World Relief Triad in North Carolina. With a background in International and Intercultural Communication, she is passionate about the power of story to connect people of diverse experiences. 

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