Meet Betsy and Vicki, two sisters who volunteer at Exodus Refugee.
Betsy and Vicki have always looked for meaningful ways to be active in the community, and pre-COVID had been involved in organizations that supported migrants and the Red Cross. When the crisis in Afghanistan made headlines in August 2021, they began looking for ways to help the evacuees who would be arriving. “My great-niece was part of a Girl Scout fundraiser and supply drive for Exodus,” recalls Betsy. “Vicki and I shopped for supplies and organized dropping them off.” After chatting with staff, they learned about volunteer opportunities to help with housing set-ups for the new arrivals. With COVID numbers still high, “socially distant opportunities were important to us. Housing set-ups with just Betsy, myself, and the housing team” were the perfect fit, Vicki said.
Both jumped right in and their self-described “small efforts” have been a huge help. Betsy has spent many hours coming into our warehouse to sort donations and making several trips to launder and organize linens at home. Vicki has spent time organizing our kitchen area and taking home silverware to organize it into sets.
Some of their favorite moments volunteering have been working with the housing team, and they have “been blown away by the dedication and enthusiasm of everyone involved.” Betsy in particular remembers a set-up for a family of 11 and putting away 2 weeks’ worth of groceries and imagining what the family’s reaction to opening a full fridge would look like. Vicki loves setting up the bedrooms. In one instance, a client arrived towards the end of a set-up, and she was able to work with him to put the finishing touches on his room. They both always go out of their way to add “quilts and touches of comfort to make it as homey as possible.”
Betsy said, “It is so hard to imagine what you would do and what you would take if you had only one bag and had to flee,” and start over in a new country. She’s been excited to share the work of Exodus with her friends and tell them about the hope refugees arrive with. Vicki has learned about the “size and commitment of Exodus, and how case management continues for the whole resettlement process.” She has learned how clients are supported for 5 years after they arrive, “not just left on their own”.
We are so grateful to have dedicated volunteers such as Betsy and Vicki who have created their own niche in volunteering at Exodus and thank them for their continuing support!