Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Helping Refugees (and Brian)

Since joining the world of unemployment, I have been helping out my friend Brian, who works for the refugee resettlement department of Catholic Charities here in Portland. Brian helps coordinate donations and furnishes living space for refugee families. I guess thousands of refugees fleeing from persecution due to war, poverty, and religious conflicts are coming into the United States each year. Some of them settle in Portland. It is Brian's job to make sure they have adequate places to live by furnishing apartments with bedding and supplies.

Each refugee family is given a small amount of money for their living space, but they rely heavily on donations. Today, Brian and I spent the afternoon picking up a donated couch from a family in Beaverton, then moving about 40 chairs from Brian's truck to a storage facility. Last week, I helped move a Somalian family from a small apartment to a larger one. They had incredibly cute kids. I learned one boy's name, but I have no idea how to spell it. Tomorrow, we pick up more furniture and bring the donated couch to a new family.

Brian's job seems to be very difficult for one person (carrying giant couches alone sucks), so it helps him out a lot when I come along. It blesses me even more, as I get to spent significant time with a close friend and help people in need.

It's strange to think that I am one of the first Americans some of the refugee families will meet. I wanted to make a welcoming first impression. The Somalian family did not understand much English, but smiles seem to be a universal sign for friendliness. God seems to have a special place in His heart for the strangers in a new land (see Zechariah 7:9-10, Deut. 24:17-22), so it's been an awesome opportunity to support these families (and support Brian).

Plus, Brian buys me Slurpees. Can't argue with that.


  1. I appreciate the link to the picture of a Slurpee.

    Can you believe that there are no 7-Elevens in the town we live in? That's how small of a town this is. Still, I shouldn't complain as I'd much rather live in a small town in the U.S. than a country infected with war, poverty, and religious conflict.

  2. Cam-
    I had to post a picture of a Slurpee, just in case someone had no idea what a Slurpee looked like....