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Westchester Refugee Initiative


Westchester Refugee Initiative - Local force for welcoming new neighbors

What is the Westchester Refugee Initiative?

Hearts & Homes created the Westchester Refugee Initiative (WRI) to further our mission to “inspire, educate and equip” others by connecting and convening volunteer resettlement groups, agencies, non-profit organizations, faith and interfaith groups, high school and college students, community groups, as well as committed individuals to collaborate in support of welcoming. Through this collaborative spirit, we are able to advocate for refugees and educate those in our communities about the facts, the journeys and the needs of our new neighbors to successfully thrive here.  

By bringing together and growing a diverse coalition we are a stronger force for welcoming.

 We invite your organization to learn more about joining this network to uplift the welcoming movement. Email


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. 

members of the Westchester Refugee Initiative

as of August 2019

WRI Network at a Glance (click here)

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

WRI Members

   Hearts and Homes for Refugees, Pelham -WRI Founder 

Catholic Charities of New York

HIAS New York

American Muslim Women's Association

Community Church of the Pelhams

Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains

Ethical Culture Society of Westchester

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)

Students for Refugees

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

WRI Friends

Capuchin Franciscans

Community Synagogue of Rye

Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, Rye

Greater NYC Families for Syria

Huguenot Memorial Church of the Pelhams

JCC Harrison

Interfaith Committee for Refugee Resettlement, Rye

Christ's Church, Rye Presbyterian and Rye Community Synagogue

Maryknoll Society

Mercy College

Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees

Northern Westchester Interfaith Coalition for Refugee Resettlement

Northwest Yonkers Neighbors for Refugees

Riverdale Bronx Interfaith Coalition

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville

Veterans for American Ideals

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

Immigrantly Podcast

Pelham Picture House

Pineapple Fund

Real New York Tours

United Way of Westchester and Putnam

Urban Refuge

Welcoming America

West End Collegiate Church

For information about participating in WRI, email:

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


Helping Hands

Advocating for Refugees


Stay Connected 

Refugee Support Resource Bank

Upcoming Events

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”

Helen Keller