Together we can help the refugees

Together we can help the refugees

Editor of the Reformer:

The recent letter from Nancy Miller regarding the refugee crisis struck a nerve compelling a response. I, like so many others, have watched in dismay feeling helpless to alter what is happening even as I read about it on a daily basis. In reality, I can't do anything on the larger scale. But if we bind together, we can do more on a smaller scale — and make an immense difference in the lives of a few families at least. I'm not sure if Westminster or Putney or Dummerston or even Brattleboro, could support bringing many refugees here and it would be very isolating for a family to find themselves totally separated from their countrymen. But if each town came together to take in one or two families, we could assemble, welcome, and integrate a small regional community of refugees.

People could pledge a monthly amount to support housing rentals (for example, for every 20 people making a $50 monthly pledge, we could support a $1,000 rental; the math can go up or down). Fuel companies might offer discounted fuel, local food shelves could assist; we definitely could clothe families. Spread across several towns, we could find some beginning jobs without language barriers. And we certainly have enough teachers and former teachers in the area to offer ESL classes. I'm certain there would be 1001 challenges, but we are all welcoming communities and we abound in innovative community schools and organizations. Local churches would help. Our children would benefit from exposure to people from another culture and experience. And we would all feel less helpless knowing we are trying to do our small part. I admit that I shudder as I write this, thinking "there goes more of my free time." But compared to what so many Syrian men, women, and children have been through, my life is, and has been, a total breeze. Most importantly, we don't have to do it alone.

Pat Shields, Westminster, May 9


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