Next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we want to celebrate our amazing volunteers. Volunteers are more than just helpers — they’re catalysts for change. Every act of service, no matter how small, has a meaningful impact in the lives of those we serve. Our volunteers are the backbone of our work, helping us serve vulnerable communities around the Quad Cities.
Their dedication and generosity make a real difference in our families’ lives. We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers like Matthew and Autumn.
Matthew heard about World Relief Quad Cities through various media sources.
He deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 but never directly interacted with the local population. After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021, Matthew knew he wanted to get involved.
He supports helping all refugees, but because of his time overseas, he was especially interested in helping Afghan refugees.
“Volunteering through World Relief Quad Cities was a way to have more direct engagement with the Afghan people,” he said.
Matthew said volunteering has changed him because he can see the results. He knows exactly how his contribution helped the refugees because he “met the people directly.”
One of his favorite memories of volunteering is helping families complete their asylum interviews in Chicago. He remembers how excited they were during the trip.
He recalled some sharing traditional Afghan food while others took photos of the tall buildings in the city. “A woman who knew little English suddenly exclaimed ‘I love Chicago!’,” he said.
Initially, Matthew’s biggest concern was the language barrier. And although language may be a challenge, he learned that many of those he worked with were very tech savvy and have great learning capacity themselves. He said that many seem “grateful to be here.”
Autumn has volunteered at World Relief Quad Cities for about 8 years. She first heard about volunteer opportunities from the volunteer coordinator at the time, Kelly, when she spoke at the Quad Cities Prayer Center. She started volunteering soon after.
She suddenly found herself with “a lot more free time” when her life situation changed.
When she heard about the opportunity to help refugees in ways that fit her talents and interests, she knew that volunteering would be an impactful use of her time.
Autumn has gained many insights during her years of volunteering.
“I have learned new perspectives and experiences from the many different cultures I’ve worked with over the years. It’s given me more courage to seek out people who are different from me and learn their holidays, customs, foods, and celebrations,” she said.
She became particularly close with two families. She has many fond memories with them, but the best was hearing their joy as they got their U.S. citizenship.
“Seeing where they started in the U.S. to where they were headed was so amazing,” Autumn said.
She’s also learned to trust in others and ask for help when life gets hard. “We aren’t created to go through all of life’s struggles alone,” she ended.
Read the rest of Autumn’s story here.
To Matthew, Autumn, and every volunteer who has dedicated their time to serving the vulnerable: Thank you for choosing to walk alongside our families. Happy Volunteer Appreciation Week from all of us at World Relief Quad Cities!
Learn more about opportunities to volunteer with refugees and other immigrants, or, fill out a volunteer application:
Erica Parrigin manages grant writing and communications at World Relief Quad Cities. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a BA in English during the pandemic in 2020. She believes that stories are powerful, and that finding ways to empathize with others is the first step in making a difference.