With support from an organizing group of civic and faith-based community leaders, a public gathering will convene on Tuesday, November 16th at 7 pm to organize volunteers and identify resources to assist several refugee Afghan families resettle in Gloucester and neighboring Cape Ann towns. The group, to be known as “Allies of Our Afghan Allies” in acknowledgment of the support many of these refugees gave to American efforts in Afghanistan during the past twenty years, will meet in Rockport at the Congregational Church on 12 School Street.
Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Reverend Rona Tyndall and Reverend Alice Erickson (both of the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, UCC), former Mayor Bruce Tobey and others have held a series of planning meetings to lay the framework for this gathering. “We came together because we recognized the need to help families who find themselves in our country after fleeing their native land with little more than the shirts on their backs,” said Mayor Romeo Theken. “Ours are communities that help those in need, and now is the time to step up.”
“The Afghan refugee families are temporarily living on U.S. military bases waiting for processing and clearance. When they leave the bases, they will face a tight housing market,” added Rev. Tyndall. “The national median rent rose to $1,302 in September, up 15% from a year ago, and costs are even higher here on Cape Ann.”
Rev. Erickson, who brings hands-on experience in refugee resettlement to this effort, understands the support that must be mustered. “Funds are needed to cover housing costs, including rent, utilities, and furnishings, as well as for education, employment training, clothing, food, medical care, transportation, and legal fees for family reunification.”
Any and all who can help this effort in any way are urged to attend this meeting, where fundraising, volunteer solicitation, and resource identification will be discussed. Masks and social distancing are required at this in-person gathering, which can also be live-streamed either at “Rockport UCC” on Facebook or at the “Old Sloop” YouTube channel.
“These families and their children deserve the same opportunities for success our communities offer to our kids and grandchildren,” said former Mayor Tobey. “This is our chance to be there now for those who stood with us as our allies. As they struggle to rebuild their lives, please join us in this effort.”Those who wish to donate immediately to the on-going “Allies of our Afghan Allies” GoFundMe campaign may do so either by visiting https://gofund.me/6ddd185e or by mailing a check, with the notation “Refugee Resettlement” in the memo line, to the West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church, 488 Essex Ave., Gloucester, MA 01930.