World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It falls on June 20th each year. It is a special occasion to recognize the tenacity and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country due to conflict or persecution.
Here in Hudson County, we are fortunate to have a community-based nonprofit called Welcome Home Jersey City, which is at the forefront of supporting refugees. Established in 2016, Welcome Home Jersey City provides educational, employment and material support for refugees, asylees and asylum-seekers in the Jersey City area. Welcome Home operates from the philosophy that all people deserve the dignity of a decent home, and the resources they need to make a better life for themselves. Some of their services include apartment furnishings for newly arrived families, back-to-school drives, community dinners, ESL tutoring, a weekly enrichment club for children called “Fun Club”, among other programs that seek to integrate refugee families in the area.
Due to the pandemic, Welcome Home has shifted the scope of their work to include providing COVID-19 vaccination resources and combatting food insecurity. They were forced to temporarily suspend in-person Fun Club meetings. However, they are in a position now to begin meeting on a regular basis come the fall and will be meeting outdoors during the summer. They are proud to share that they have a new commercial storage space to store household furniture, which will enable quick apartment furnishings for refugee families. They are also seeking a case manager to join the team.
Welcome Home Jersey City was pleased to host a World Refugee Day Festival at Temple Beth-El this weekend in partnership with First Friends of NJ and NY. The event included an art installation inspired by the Humans of New York series, featuring portraits and testimony by friends of Welcome Home and First Friends. It featured games and activities for children of all ages. Copies of Big Blue Box by Emily Kullman and Nancy-Jo Taiani, a children’s book about a girl whose family is broken up by the immigration detention system, were also given away. Check out a video of some featured speakers from this event here:
Inspired by what you read? Honor World Refugee Day by contributing towards Welcome Home Jersey City’s general operating fund here.
A special thank you to Alain Mentha for his support with this piece and for his important work with Welcome Home Jersey City.