Westchester Refugee Initiative - Local force for welcoming new neighbors
During this time of fierce debate about immigration policy, refugee bans and the dismantling of the US resettlement program, the US is once again currently on pace to welcome the fewest refugees in its history. As much as our hearts lie with resettling refugees using the co-sponsorship model, the fact is that for now, as policies of this administration effectively result in turning our backs on refugees, we must turn much of our attention to sustaining the local grassroots energy and finding other ways to embrace and sustain the core American values of welcoming.
To meet this challenge locally, Hearts and Homes for Refugees founded and is leading the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI)
Hearts & Homes for Refugees created the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) to convene, educate, gather ongoing support and advocate for refugees here in Westchester County, NY.
The Westchester Refugee Initiative is a coalition representing local non-profit organizations, faith communities, student and community groups, and committed individuals dedicated to working together to advocate for just refugee and asylum policies, educate neighbors and communities, and serve refugee and asylee populations across Westchester County. By bringing together and growing a diverse coalition we are a force for welcoming.
We envision a Westchester County that offers tolerance, respect and support for those who have been forced to flee their homes. The presence of a strong coalition offers long-term sustainable and meaningful support for refugees in Westchester County communities.
To share knowledge, resources, expertise and opportunities, to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and advocate for their continued acceptance and protection, and to encourage others to volunteer and support our new neighbors. In these challenging times, there is hope that the community grassroots will keep the welcoming movement alive and core American values intact.
Mobilizing and expanding the reach and impact of the existing volunteer network enables the continued growth of the grassroots welcoming movement. WRI offers a collection of programs and activities that create opportunities for volunteers to support our new neighbors in their integration.
There are more than 40 groups and 2,000 volunteers and supporters in Westchester County sharing resources and participating in opportunities to advocate for just refugee and asylum policies, educate neighbors and communities and assist refugee and asylee populations across the county. That number grows as word spreads about opportunities to be part of our welcoming movement.
as of August 2019
WRI Network at a Glance (click here)
Because our voices are louder and actions stronger when we work together.
Will you join us to plan, to lead, or to offer some of your time in any way, small or large?
How Do We Support Refugees?
Direct Support Helping Hands connects refugees, asylees and Special Immigration Visa holder (SIVs) with volunteers, providing short-term assistance to refugees and related populations.
Advocacy has been an important activity. From petitions to postcard writing, the WRI Advocacy Plan and Toolkit offers guidelines and instructions on advocating for refugee resettlement in the U.S. and a dignified, just immigration policy. Our goal in 2019 is a stronger, more strategic Advocacy Program to bring the full force of the entire WRI network on policies that positively impact the welcoming movement.
Awareness Raising Staying Connected and communicating across the network is a powerful way to amplify and spread the messages of welcoming. Creating and jointly participating in Activities and Events–speaking engagements, community activities – are ways to inspire, educate and motivate support for refugees. (see Welcoming Week 2018 )
Ambassadors Volunteers are invited to help spread the word about refugees and resettlement in their local communities as Ambassadors.
Asylum Guidance Refugees who are granted asylum can sign up for many of the same services as those refugees we have been assisting in traditional resettlement. Many of those individuals and families are not aware of their rights to these services. Hearts & Homes is helping to spread the word about Catholic Charities as a "trusted partner" and get the word out about the services to which asylees are legally entitled.
Find out ways you can spread the word and this flyer. Asylee Guidance Support
HHR/WRI Members, Friends & Supporters
HHR relies heavily on networking to extend the reach and impact of our work on behalf of refugees.
In Westchester County, WRI represents non-profit organizations, faith communities, student and community groups, and committed individuals dedicated to supporting refugee and asylee populations, educating neighbors and communities, and advocating for just refugee and asylum policies across the county. A diverse and committed coalition is the key to successful collaboration and results.
We invite your organization to learn more about joining this network to uplift the welcoming movement. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hearts and Homes for Refugees, Pelham -WRI Founder
Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains
First Unitarian Society of Westchester (FUSW)
Inter-Faith Council for New Americans Westchester (ICNAW)
Beth El Synagogue (New Rochelle), Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains, Ethical Cultural Society of Westchester, New Rochelle United Methodist Church, Temple Israel of New Rochelle, Temple Israel Center of White Plains
Neighbors for Refugees, Larchmont/Mamaroneck
PART One (Pleasantville Armonk Resettlement Team)
Congregation B’nai Yisrael, Pleasantville Community Synagogue
Rivertowns for Refugees
Irvington Presbyterian Church, Temple Beth Shalom, Social Action for 10591, Irvington High School, Our Lady of Pompeii, Temple Beth Shalom Social Action, St. Barnabas, Grace Episcopal, Hastings NY, Christ Episcopal Church, Zion Episcopal Dobbs Ferry, Irvington Activists, Temple Beth Abraham, Greenburgh Hebrew Center, Sacred Heart, Reformed Church of Tarrytown, All Saints Episcopal Church Briarcliff, South Presbyterian Church, St. Matthew & Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Christ Episcopal Church & San Marcos
Sisters of the Divine Compassion (RDC)
Founded by Scarsdale High School, with branches in the following Westchester High Schools: Ardsley, Blind Brook, Hackley, Horace Mann, Irvington, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye Country Day School. Branches also in other cities across the country and in Europe.
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Mamaroneck
Woodlands-Bet Am Shalom, White Plains
Greater NYC Families for Syria
Interfaith Committee for Refugee Resettlement, Rye
Christ's Church, Rye Presbyterian and Rye Community Synagogue
Northern Westchester Interfaith Coalition for Refugee Resettlement
Northwest Yonkers Neighbors for Refugees
Riverdale Bronx Interfaith Coalition
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville
Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia
Westchester Community College
Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale
White Plains-Scarsdale Refugee Resettlement Group
Congregation Kol Ami, Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont and Emanu-el
WRI Partners and Supporters
For information about participating in WRI, email: email@example.com
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”