Meet one of our former Community Support Teams, Crawfordsville ARC! Our Community Support Teams volunteer for a 3-to-6-month period. After being matched with a client family, they help Exodus in numerous ways to welcome the family to Indiana and support their life ahead. Crawfordsville ARC was matched with a family from Afghanistan. We spoke with co-leader, David, about their experience working with this family.
Crawfordsville ARC (Afghan Refugee Coalition) was a team made up of members from 6 different churches in the Crawfordsville area – Wabash Avenue Presbyterian, St. John’s Episcopal, Christ Lutheran Church, First Christian Church, St. Stephen’s Orthodox and First United Methodist Crawfordsville. These churches had heard about the evacuation of Afghanistan and had done some work with Camp Atterbury, but wanted to do more to support the evacuees who would be staying in Indiana and joining their community. They first learned about Exodus after learning of another church who was working with a refugee family as a Community Support Team and formed the coalition to start volunteering.
Co-leaders David and Joyce got to work organizing the group, and starting in November 2021 they began fundraising and gathering supplies to welcome the family they would later welcome in early 2022. The group was very willing to jump in and support the family in whatever they needed. One of the most interesting learning experiences they had was how much it takes to start over in a new country. The team is grateful for the support Exodus provided in giving advice and support to the team as the family came across different challenges.
Some of the work in navigating how to manage benefits, searching for a job, and frustration with Afghan evacuees not yet having a clear path to citizenship have been difficult, but working with support from Exodus helped build trust between the family and team members. After trying a few options, both parents have jobs they enjoy and have been working with the legal team at Exodus to apply for asylum. The team holds a lot of admiration for how the family continues to learn and holds a determination to succeed no matter what they are faced with.
The family is hardworking and hospitable; always bringing something to contribute when invited to dinners with the team and other community members. They recall at one such dinner, the 4-year-old was helping to pass out cookies she had helped bake to everyone with a huge smile on her face. David and his wife said the family sees them as the “grandparents of their American family” and they are so fortunate to have gotten to know such a wonderful family.
Another way the team worked to connect the family to the community was by taking them to different things around Indianapolis. They helped the family get a pass to the Children’s Museum (which they love to go to frequently), organized a trip to the zoo, the State Fair, gone for picnics in the local park and more. The team wanted the family to not just know but enjoy their new home and community.
While their official time as a Community Support Team at Exodus has ended, many team members are still close with the family and have continued to support them. The team learned a lot about the challenges refugees face and has continued to learn about other immigrants in their community and started outreach to them as well.
Thank you to Crawfordsville ARC for all their work and dedication in supporting our clients and being a part of welcoming them to the community. We are grateful for their time and energy!
If you are interested in forming a Community Support Team, please feel free to reach out to Kris George, firstname.lastname@example.org