The Welcome Home Project
I am proud to announce a partnership between Gina Sims Designs and New American Pathways, a wonderful agency that resettles refugees in and around Atlanta, Georgia. We have been talking about our partnership for months but the timeliness of today's meeting to finalize our plans seems more than coincidental. You may not know this, but I worked in refugee resettlement for over 10 years in Nashville and Atlanta. Being a part of welcoming families fleeing unspeakable trauma to a new country and a new hope was one of the great joys of my life. After experiencing tremendous suffering, imagine being told where in the world you will now live (and usually not having a say), not speaking the language, not being able to work in your former career because your language and credentials do not translate, sending your kids off in a bus to a place you know nothing about with kids they don't know, not knowing how to navigate a city or grocery store, for that matter. These are just the tip of the iceberg for someone starting over. Refugees would love to go home if their lives were not in danger. But they can't. Now, on top of the tremendous fear of the unknown in a new country and the incredible trauma of what they were fleeing, imagine your new country not wanting you. Well, that's not us. That cannot be who we are.
I am an action girl. I am a "so, what now?" girl. Well, here's what. I do not know what the politicians will do but I do know what I will do and what we can do together. We are going to welcome refugees from several corners of the world with a welcoming place to call home. We will have the opportunity to donate good quality furniture to refugee families when they step off the plane and into their apartment in their new country. You can volunteer to furnish an apartment with your neighborhood or church or book club or you can simply donate a kitchen table and chairs or sofa or any basic need. New American Pathways resettles families year round and they generally have a 1-3 week period from when they are notified a family is arriving, to locate and set up an entire apartment. They have very little money to do this and depend heavily on donations. Getting a family set up for their new life on the right foot is critical to the refugee family's success. Did you know that more than 90% of refugee families are entirely self-sufficient (and, yes, paying taxes) within 6 months of being here? We were once the stranger and it is our joy to welcome the new stranger.
The refugee population has been very close to my heart for many years and I have been looking for a way to connect my interior design business to my heart's pulls to help. This is a no brainer for me and I am thrilled for the support of my clients, friends and especially New American Pathways. Going forward, I will be announcing specific needs on Facebook and Instagram, calling on clients and friends to donate furniture they do not need anymore, giving money (I wrote my first check today), and more. If you are a designer, please encourage your clients to donate their unwanted, good quality furniture. If you have furniture, please donate. If you care or if you are conflicted, please pray. There are many ways to get involved. This is one. Please do something.
To arrange a donation pick up, call Jayme Hogan-Yarbro, Resource Coordinator at New American Pathways, at 404.299.6099 ext. 265 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have questions about refugee resettlement or your donation, please feel free to ask me. Let's talk.
Please share this or ask your networks to join you in saying, "Welcome Home" to a refugee family. It's who we are.