Refugee Resettlement Project

Update, March 21, 2016

Wi-ACT’s 32-member Steering Committee is pleased to report that things have been moving along very well for our family in the first two weeks following their arrival on March 10th.

The young widow mother, Manal, has continued to be everything we expected – and more and she and her children should be the poster family for refugee resettlement! They are so appreciative of everything that has been done. The house looks absolutely magnificent and has been very well cared for notwithstanding the number of young people in it. Additional work on childproofing and other improvements have been done by Wi-ACT’s Construction subcommittee under the leadership of Sonny Kern. Government interface subcommittee Chair Madeleine Wilken reports that the various government registrations with Social Security and CT Dept. of Social Services have now been completed. Clothing/furnishings subcommittee Chair Pat Hoeg reports that for now the family has all that it needs in terms of both clothing and furnishings as to the latter through the generosity of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the transitional housing they have provided. When the family moves into its permanent housing, there will be a need for furnishings for it then, and the subcommittee will request donations at that time when the specific needs are known based on the housing.

The provision of interpreters has been very well established with a stable of 20 of them under the direction of Acculturation subcommittee Chairs Heidi Hawk and David Bloomer, and an able team of 8 ESL instructors is helping Manal and the children with their English under ESL subcommittee Chair Char Griffin. Education subcommittee Chair Phyllis Boozer reports that everything continues well there with medical exams for school enrollment being completed and our schools ready to receive their new students, probably starting next Monday. In fact, the four oldest children had a wonderful experience visiting Middlebrook and Cider Mill Schools last week, and the two oldest, Mohammad and Bisan, came back particularly enthusiastic with Bisan carrying a large collection of books and a detailed scheduling sheet and with a huge smile on her face!

The Chair of the Transportation subcommittee Jane Alexander ( and the Chair of the Childcare subcommittee Joanna Schubkegel ( continue to report the need for more volunteers. If you would like to volunteer your time for either of these very important activities (and as much or as little of your time as you’d like to volunteer), please contact them. The Employment, Finance, and Housing subcommittees will now be moving into action since the other preliminary steps post-arrival are moving so well to completion.

Contributions towards the work are always welcome and very helpful, with checks made payable to Temple B’nai Chaim where Wi-ACT’s funds are maintained and mailed to Wi-ACT’s Treasurer Don Weber, 27 North Valley Road, Ridgefield 06877, noting “refugee resettlement.”

Finally, we thought you might enjoy reading about a trip the three oldest children made with two Steering Committee members to Payless Shoes in Norwalk. They report, “The kids are very independent and mature for their ages. They understood exactly what to do and dove right in. It was a lot of fun, and the smiles on their faces were priceless! Even the salesman commented on the kids’ smiles when they put on the shoes that they chose. He said it made his day! When we stopped for pizza, they were so happy. We found we could talk even though we didn’t speak the same language- a perfect morning!”

Update, Jan. 28, 2016:  We are expecting a refugee family in the very near future, and there are now a number of committees that will help to settle them. I will list the committees below and if you have interest in any of them, please email me at, and I will put you in touch with the committee chair so that you may participate in the committee’s activities.

The Committees are:
  • Housing-identify and arrange for housing
  • Clothing/furnishings-obtain, usually through donations, clothing and household furnishings
  • Finance-establish family budget, help to obtain bank accounts/insurance, maintaining records of contributions in support of the family and related disbursements
  • Interfacing with government agencies-Social security, CT Dept. of Social Services, etc.
  • ESL-enable and teach English
  • Education-Ensure the entire family is able to pursue appropriate educational opportunities
  • Transportation-initially help to drive family as necessary and possibly eventually obtaining a car
  • Health-facilitate the family receiving appropriate medical services
  • Employment Assistance-provide support to family members to obtain and succeed in a job
  • Acculturation-integrate the family into American society

Those who volunteered when we resettled the Iraqi family several years ago found the experience both interesting and rewarding!

To All TBC Members:

TBC participates as a member of WI-ACT, Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (e.g., in the Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event). About 6 years ago WI-ACT helped resettle an Iraqi refugee family, which is doing well and living in Stamford.

In response to the increased need, the WI-ACT Steering Committee has decided to resettle another refugee family through the nonprofit Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS) headquartered in New Haven. Refugees come from one of several Middle Eastern and African countries and have been fully vetted by Homeland Security, U.S. Intelligence agencies and the U.S. State Department.

This important effort will provide an opportunity for volunteers from the TBC Congregation to help this refugee family integrate into our society and customs. Potential areas that will require volunteers include, housing, education, health, relations with government agencies and transportation. TBC will also provide financial support for this refugee family’s resettlement through your voluntary contributions to the Tzedakah Fund (click here).  Make sure to indicate the donation is for the Refugee Resettlement Project.

See below for a fuller explanation of this project.

Congregants who participated in the past have found it to be very rewarding. If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please contact Don Weber, or Peggy Zamore,

Statement from Steve Hudspeth the Chair of WI-ACT

Wi-ACT will be doing Refugee Resettlement

December 21, 2015,   As you know, Temple B’nai Chaim is active in the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT), with TBC members serving on its Steering Committee and a number of us volunteering at its annual Stop Hunger NOW meal-packaging event each October. A half-dozen years ago, Wi-ACT did refugee resettlement work with an Iraqi family (husband, wife and two young children} who are living in Stamford now and doing quite well.

In light of the continuing and compelling need for refugee resettlement. WI-ACT’s Steering Committee has determined that it will return to refugee resettlement work starting with one refugee family. It will once again do so with highly rated nonprofit Integrated Refugee & Irnmigrant Services, headquartered in New Haven. All of the refugees this agency supports come through U.S. government asylum programs with refugees heavily vetted by Homeland Security, U.S. intelligence agencies, and the State Department. Refugees come to it about half from three Middle Eastern countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) and half from three African countries (the Congo, Eritrea, and Sudan). Wi-ACT does not know yet where its family will come from. If its work goes well with that family, Wi-ACT is open to continuing with other refugee families.

The support program contemplates 6 months of intensive hands-on work by Wi-ACT with the family after which the family will be expected to be fully self-sustaining and independent, living in housing the family will have chosen with Wi-ACT’s advice and help somewhere in this general area but most likely in a more urban setting than Wilton — as with Wi-AC1 ‘s previous refugee family from Iraq. At a recent training session with IRIS, the Wi-ACT Steering Committee members in attendance learned that six other Connecticut towns have groups ready and able to do this work also.