After helping one refugee family resettle in the U.S., a group of Socorro residents hope to sponsor a second refugee family.
The Socorro Sponsor Circle sponsored a refugee family from Afghanistan earlier this year. Sponsor circles partner with a refugee family to help the family settle into life in the U.S. The sponsor circle raises funds to assist the family, and then helps them get established in a community, by helping secure housing and navigate bureaucratic systems.
The sponsor circle helps the family access medical care, get settled into the school system, find employment and support English language acquisition.
The Socorro Sponsor Circle partnered with a family from Afghanistan this year. That family relocated to Socorro in February and lived in the community for over eight months.
“We do a lot of advocating for them, helping out in schools and helping out in doctors’ offices and appointments, just being an advocate for them,” said member Kate Burleigh.
After getting settled in the U.S., the family moved to Dallas to be closer to family, and the sponsor circle members thought, why not help another family?
“We’re set up and kind of in motion,” said Burleigh. “We have this great house. The need is just so great to help these people, and we just said, let’s keep going.”
This time they plan to sponsor a refugee family from Venezuela, as coming to a community with Spanish speakers might make the transition easier for a Spanish-speaking family.
“We have Spanish speakers in the community and culturally it’s a little more similar. It’s still different, but it’s not the leap that we made with the family from Afghanistan, which was delightful. It was so much fun,” said Burleigh.
“We learned so much from them because of our differences, that we became really good friends through our different cultural way of doing things. It was a challenge, but it was also a wonderful challenge. This time I think it will be a little easier. We have a lot more language support this time.”
Originally the commitment for the program was 90 days, but that has changed to a six-month commitment. Sponsor circles apply for the program, and families choose a sponsor circle to work with.
The sponsor circle also has to raise at least $2,275 per person in the family to help them with expenses. The group has 60 percent of the funding raised but will need more. If anyone would like to contribute financially, there is a Socorro Sponsor Circle bank account set up at First State Bank. The group will also need to restock the kitchen with dishes and replace mattresses before the family comes.
“Any sort of charitable work always seems to give more to the person giving than the person getting,” said circle member Mary Ruff. “We felt very good about being able to help, and I think that it was really good for us to be able to do that.”
The family is not required to settle long-term in Socorro, but the program is one way to bring new residents into the community.
“Socorro is really a wonderful town, but we do need to bring new people in, so this would be another way of doing that,” said Ruff.
For more information contact Burleigh, at 575-517-0548.
“Any level of participation is wonderful,” said Burleigh. “Tutoring, or being a friend, or let me take you to Walmart—those are all really viable ways to help. It’s one of those arrangements where you think, I don’t have anything to give, but you do.”