Follow Tacoma-area volunteers on their year-long journey with a refugee family

by | Aug 24, 2022 | Refugees & Immigrants

About the program

LCS Northwest’s Circle of Welcome program allows faith and community groups to walk alongside a refugee or refugee family for one year. There are three models: Newly-Arrived, Post-Arrival, and Distant Partner.  Each includes a minimum financial commitment, and a variety of support activities for groups to pick from.  For more information about starting a Circle of Welcome group, contact Sheridan Moore at smoore@lcsnw.org or (503) 893-8853.  

 

CHAPTER 1

CIRCLE IS FORMED

 

Look at us on paper, and you won’t see much at first glance that binds this team together. Some folks met each other for the first time at a summer barbecue. Others haven’t seen each other in years.

You have to look deeper to find the common purpose that drew us into a tight circle.

It’s not just any circle; it’s a Circle of Welcome. And soon it will center on a family of 11 refugees.

 

Age wise, our group ranges from Baby Boom to Gen Z — from 70-somethings to early 20s.

Professionally, we cover the spectrum. There’s a retired oncologist, PE teacher and career Defense Department employee, plus a couple of former nurses. There’s a chemical engineer, physical therapist spouses, a human resources manager, a pastor and his wife, and myself, the communications director at Lutheran Community Services Northwest. Other members are equally diverse.

We also have different stories when it comes to our faith backgrounds. While many feel called by the Christian gospel, not all are regular churchgoers.

What unites this team is a shared determination to help one refugee family make a fresh start, oceans apart from the repression and fear they faced back home.

The welcome model is used by refugee resettlement agencies around the United States, including LCS Northwest.

This summer, two churches in Gig Harbor — Peninsula Lutheran and One Hope — decided to circle up. It took several weeks to enlist a core group of roughly a dozen people, get trained and organized, appoint leaders and sign up for tasks. COVID outbreaks slowed us down further.

Then in a moment came the exciting news: An Afghan family of 11 would arrive in two weeks. A home would have to be prepared, pantry shelves stocked.

 

The circle has been formed. Now the long welcome begins.

 

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