Meeting the needs of Asylum Seekers within a Supportive Community in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont
Over the last two months, we have made important decisions about our relationship with sponsors and hosts, our readiness to accept new guests, supporting our guests, and exploring housing options. Our current guests continue to thrive.
Update on Our Guests
Our guest in Danville was laid off from his mechanic’s job due to a slowdown, with a strong letter of recommendation from his employer. He had already begun working weekends with a local landscaping company, and after the layoff he increased his hours. He continues to seek additional job opportunities. He plans to obtain his CDL (commercial drivers’ license) in the fall, with financial help from VSAC. He has his own car, donated by one of our Board Members. Our guest in St. J completed his medical course at CCV with a very high grade and will continue his studies this summer. He is in the process of getting a work permit and driver’s license. Our third guest, who had been living out of state, has returned to Vermont. He and his fiancé are staying with his sponsor in Peacham until they find their own apartment. He has begun PT and OT, helps his hosts with firewood and other tasks, and enjoys riding his bike. He and his fiancé are scheduled to start work at Maple Grove in St. J in the next week or two. They are expecting a child in September.
After reviewing the practices of other asylum seeker support groups in the area, NEKASAN’s board voted to assume primary financial responsibility for our guests’ reasonable expenses with prior approval and depending on our resources. We have increased the monthly stipend for hosts to $300 to cover basic costs of food and shelter. We hope that this new policy will result in more people being able to take on the role of host.The board voted to adopt a team approach for new and present guests. Each guest will be assigned a team of volunteers to facilitate their introduction to the community and address their individual needs and desires in areas including education, employment, and more. We welcome volunteers who would like to participate as team members. Finally, and most importantly, the board has decided that we are ready to accept up to three new guests. We are developing contacts among lawyers and other service providers who can help us identify suitable guests. We are looking for people willing to host new arrivals or provide affordable rental housing.
Financial: We have an ongoing need for donors who can help support our current guests and those we hope to invite soon. We especially welcome donations on a monthly basis to create a predictable income stream. We are exploring other fundraising options, including grants and events, but individual donors will remain our lifeline. You can donate on our website, nekasan.org.
Sponsors and Hosts: As new guests arrive, we will need people willing to act as sponsors and hosts. See our website for information about what these roles involve and please consider whether this is something you could take on.
Volunteers: We need help in many areas: joining a team to welcome new guests and provide ongoing support, providing recreational and social activities for our guests, helping with transportation, fundraising, publicity, and much more. We also need people willing to chair or staff our housing and employment committees.
We are focusing efforts on building a more welcoming community and are launching a listening exchange in early June. The listening exchange will be a series of 3 loosely structured small group gatherings via zoom for our guests and local peers that allows people to be heard, tell the stories they wish to, and get to know each other. For information about NEKASAN, making donations, volunteering, and more, visit our website: nekasan.org.