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Afghan Help

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Thank you again for your interest in serving our new Afghan neighbors!

My name is Matt Bentley and I'm an elder candidate at The Well tasked with providing you with a brief update on where things stand today regarding the Boulder Afghan Refugee resettlement effort continually. You can always check back on this page for the most updated information as this situation shifts rapidly. 

Boulder Afghan Refugee Task Force Update

First, a new organization has emerged, the Boulder Afghan Refugee Task Force. This is an organization of leaders and individuals (all volunteer) in Boulder and Lafayette that are working together to help resettle and care for as many refugees as possible. Currently, we are working on getting a website up and running as well as gaining official 501c3 status, but there is already a lot of work going on. 

As of right now, The Well (through myself) and The Table (through Rocky and Maria) are a part of the Boulder Task Force. We’ve been attending organizational meetings and hearing updates on how to best engage, and the task force is starting to take shape in a way that can guide the whole-of-Boulder response to the Afghan resettlement needs/opportunities in our area.

The Boulder Task Force (TF) is a very diverse group right now, and we are working on getting people in roles to help manage all of the different tasks that are emerging (transport, medical, education, food, etc.). About 9 families have already been placed in Boulder and Lafayette, and each of these families has a “Wrap Team” (what I was previously calling “sponsorship”) that is managing their daily needs and helping them establish a life in our area. The Well and The Table are not currently involved in a Wrap Team, though it would be great for our community to work toward readiness to stand one up as more refugees head our way in the new year.

We are expecting another influx of refugees in the early new year. Many Afghans are still fleeing the country, and there are many still en route to CO via military bases around the country/world. Right now, the best thing we can do is to prepare for that time by getting involved in a few key ways, described below.

JOIN THE WELL'S WRAP TEAM

The Well and The Table are currently working toward starting up a joint Wrap Team. Wrap Teams are groups of volunteers who are committed to meeting the needs of a specific Afghan refugee family in the long-term. Anyone can join a wrap team and there are multiple roles at various levels for anyone interested. Wrap Teams are made up of a diverse set of volunteers that help with everything from food to housing, transportation, and jobs. These types of activities are commonly referred to as “sponsorship” activities, and in order for our churches to stand up a Wrap Team and welcome an Afghan family into our community, we need your help. 

HOW TO PREPARE TO BE INVOLVED

  1. Volunteer Training - In order for us to eventually do all of the things required to care for families, volunteers (particularly those involved in transport) will need to go through the Lutheran Family Services volunteer training. It isn’t too painful a process, and I’ll be going through it myself in the coming weeks. A word doc is available here with the process outlined, and please let me know if you are starting this! I’d like to keep track of who we have that has gone through the training and where people are in the process so we can move toward readiness to be a Wrap Team. You can also view scheduled events of upcoming training here.

  2. Donations - there are many needs associated with resettling refugees and evacuees who have brought nothing but the clothes on their backs with them to this country. Another word doc here has a general list of all the things that are needed. If you have some of these things, or would like to buy some, there is some limited storage room in the garage of an Afghan family in Lafayette. You could, for example, make a Walmart run in Lafayette, then drop things off at a household less than a mile away. Give me a heads up, and I can share the address. Of particular importance are items such as beds and bedding and kitchen/cooking supplies like pressure cookers. Financial donations can also be made through Cornerstone Church (https://cstone.link/afghan), which has graciously taken somewhat of a leadership role on the TF.

  3. Housing - if you or anyone you know has housing that could be considered for a refugee family, this is still a huge need. Maybe it’s an airbnb that you don’t need income from for a few months, or maybe you know someone who lives for a part of the year in another state. Whatever the situation, if there is a possibility that an Afghan family could stay somewhere, that would be enormously helpful, particularly as we consider becoming a Wrap Team. There may be other options available, but housing remains one of the biggest barriers to resettling Afghan refugees outside of inner-city Denver.

  4. Other Stuff - this is intentionally vague, as the opportunities are diverse beyond the above two options. If you would like to jump into helping families that are already here, you can do that, though I would recommend taking things slow. If you are interested in these other opportunities (for example jobs, transportation, or English classes), you could join the TF slack channel to stay up to date on emergent needs. A word of warning: the Slack is overwhelming. Because of that, if you are already doing the volunteer training (#1) and want to get involved right now, please reach out directly to me, and I can give you more info on how to join the Slack and use it efficiently.

Thank you all again for your interest and willingness to serve and love our new neighbors. While it has been a slow start for us, I think we are taking a wise approach and can work toward readiness to become a Wrap Team early this year.

Please reach out to me at bentleymaja@gmail.com if you would like to get involved or if you have any questions.

Blessings,
Matt Bentley, Elder Candidate 
The Well Boulder