WASHINGTON — The Washington Refugee Resettlement Project (www.wrrp.net) invites interested persons to a conversation about resettling a refugee family in New Milford, slated for 3 p.m. Saturday, October 23, at the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens, 1 Green Hill Rd. 

The Washington Council of Congregations will host this meeting, open to all in Washington and nearby communities, regardless of religious affiliation.

Those interested in the project who are unable to attend the meeting are invited to send an email to info@wrrp.net.

At the meeting, members of the WRRP leadership team will explain various levels of volunteer opportunities. WRRP will work collaboratively with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, based in New Haven, to apply as co-sponsor.

Ashley Makar, IRIS community co-sponsor liaison, will discuss IRIS and its role in a co-sponsorship of a refugee resettlement in Connecticut.

“Refugee community sponsorship allows us to welcome and integrate newcomers to our beautiful corner of Connecticut while also creating bonds among neighbors, as we unite around a common cause,” said the Rev. Geoffrey Hahneman, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Washington, who will coordinate the project with the Rev. Lisa DiNunno Hahneman of St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Milford.

Supporting WCOC in this effort will be the New Milford Refugee Resettlement, a group that has already resettled two refugee families in New Milford.

According to Carolyn Setlow, member of the WRRP leadership team and of the Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life, “community co-sponsors play an integral role in helping refugees get off to a strong start in their new home country and eventually to become self-sufficient. Volunteers from prior refugee resettlement programs tell us that their involvement has been one of the most gratifying experiences of their lives.”

The Rev. Robyn Gray of the First Congregational Church of Washington underscores the importance of such co-sponsorship. “In Connecticut, IRIS expects to help resettle about 600 refugee families from Afghanistan alone, and some from other parts of the world as well, so the need for volunteers is great.”

Monica Thornton, member of the WRRP leadership team and human right lawyer, said that “the ability of a community to come together to help a refugee family resettle in their community defines the character of each individual and the identity of the community.

“Offering a helping hand is always a direct path to helping yourself. As an experienced refugee resettlement sponsor, I know that volunteers are essential to helping refugees establish new, independent lives, new homes, new jobs, new schools, a new language skills and new friends. It’s an honor to be able to assist in this process.”

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