On Saturday, February 25th, sixteen community service organizations, ranging from the International Rescue Committee to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, gathered at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Lakewood to host a JustServe Fair. JustServe is an LDS Church-sponsored web site (www.justserve.org) that links volunteers of all backgrounds with local community service opportunities. As a community resource, JustServe aims to build unity and meet critical human needs across diverse populations throughout the United States.
During the February JustServe Fair, attendees had direct chances to learn about service opportunities from each of the sixteen organizations’ representatives. Throughout the fair, participants also contributed to several service projects that directly benefited the participating organizations, such as making blankets and hats for the International Rescue Committee and Jefferson County Human Services.
In just one day, JustServe fair organizers observed postings from local organizations on the JustServe web site double in number. This increase in postings means that there’s even better visibility for vital community organizations trying to connect with interested volunteers. These organizations rely on the goodwill and generosity of individual volunteers who are improving life here in the Denver Metro Area.
During the last General Conference in Salt Lake City – a bi annual meeting where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet to hear from their Prophet and current Church Leaders, the General Relief Society President, Sister Linda K. Burton and Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy issued an invitation to the members of the church to serve the flood of international refuges and introduced the “I was a Stranger” Initiative. This is outlined on LDS.org at https://www.lds.org/refugees.
In response to this invitation, Mormons across the state of Colorado have also reached out to various local organizations and non-profits that are helping in refugee efforts. Volunteers are planning projects to serve these organizations with donations, service hours, and other resources these groups stand in need of.
One project in particular being organized through the website www.JustServe.org is to assemble backpack(s) with school supplies for the Lutheran Family Services 2016 School Supply Drive. These backpacks of school supplies will go to refugee and foster children in Colorado. See the list or local area resources and organizations that service refugees and need your help below:
“We each have the invitation to open our eyes and our hearts to see those among us who may feel alone, afraid, or uncertain so that we are no longer strangers. We are invited to share our love, our confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our hands to strengthen others and love them as the Savior would have us do. This is not a program; it is who we are.”
Faith-based, human services non-profit dedicated to helping refugees/asylees rebuild their lives by equipping them to achieve self-sufficiency within their first year in the United States and fostering integration into their new communities.
Location: 1600 Downing Street Suite 600, Denver 80218. Additional locations in Colorado Springs, Ft. Morgan and Greeley.
Resettle 850 individuals annually
Opportunities for Volunteers: Serve as Cultural Mentor to help families assimilate into the community. LFS matches volunteers with a family and they provide mentoring for 6 months. Form your own group or join as an individual.
Opportunities for Donations: Baby Baskets and Family Welcome Baskets, Household items, sheets cleaning supplies, toiletries.
Resettle 600 individuals annually. Location: 5250 Leetsdale Drive, Suite 200, Denver, CO
Community Alliance Program: Organized Congregations volunteer programs OR Individuals Volunteers: Donations: Welcome baskets, school and household supplies, Volunteer Opportunities: orientation, background check, and application required. Thrift Store Volunteer – help with merchandising, sorting, etc. at Safari Thrift at ACC furnishes apartments and provides clothing and household items to refugees through this thrift store). Good for individuals and groups. Volunteer times available Monday-Saturday 10:00-5:00. 738 Peoria Street
International City Youth Program – homework help/tutoring, assistance with life skills classes, artistic and athletic enrichment activities. Volunteer times available Monday-Thursday 4-7:00, Friday field trips 4-10:00. 1532 Galena Street Resettlement and Training Program Support – Volunteer opportunities with ACC’s resettlement, employment, training, finance, and volunteer/outreach departments are available Monday-Friday 9-5:00 pm. 5250 Leetsdale Drive. First Friends – Volunteers provide cultural exchange and support to newly-arrived refugees. Minimum requirement: 3 hrs biweekly for 3 months. Good fit for families.
Refugee Housing Organizations
These two low-income housing services serve the majority of the refugee population which arrive into Colorado. They provide direct services for their refugee communities.
Project Worth More: a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of Denver-area refugees by providing cultural mentorship and community supports. 1532 Galena St., Aurora 80010. Volunteer: welcome baskets, tutoring, family mentors (teams of 4-6 volunteers spend 4 hrs/ month with one family)
Emily Griffith Technical College: Colorado Refugee ESL Volunteer Programs: Serves adult refugees who have recently resettled in the Denver metro area. They provide English and literacy instruction, as well as job-readiness education and acculturation lessons.
1860 Lincoln Street, Denver 80203. Volunteer: 1:1 In-Home Tutoring or Classroom Tutor. Requirements: 8 hours of training and a commitment of 2 hours/week for 4 months.
Colorado African Organization: Founded by Africans for Africans. They foster education, self-sufficiency, and empowerment for all refugees, asylum-seekers, and immigrants. 6795 E. Tennessee Ave, Suite 250, Denver 80224,
Volunteer: transportation assitance, ESL or citizenship tutoring, child care, community events, and administrative. Background check required.
Place Bridge Academy: Over 40 different countries are represented in our student body. To address the unique needs of our newly arriving refugee and immigrant students, Place Bridge Academy has “Newcomer Centers” alongside our mainstream classrooms in grades K-6 to provide concentrated English language development.
7125 Cherry Creek Drive North, Denver. Volunteer: in the classroom, after school, in adult programs, or one-time projects.
Spring institute: Provider of intercultural learning programs. 1373 Grant St., Denver 80203, 303-863-0188. Volunteer: adult education, Colorado welcome back (help foreign-trained healthcare professionals reestablish healthcare careers in Colorado), and Project SHINE (health literacy training and patient navigation services).
Growing Colorado Kids Farm: Works to reduce hunger, improve nutrition, and provide experiential learning opportunities for refugee youth through organic farming.
30141 East 128th Ave, Commerce City 80022. Thursday Family Dinner Nights, Thursdays 5:00-7:00 pm June-August. Work with staff to create dinner for 35 from vegetables from the farm. Prepare in advance or cook with the kids. All expenses are tax deductible. Farm Fridays: help garden, plant, weed, trim, mulch, harvest, care for animals, etc. First 3 Fridays of the month Feb-Oct (except 7/1 and 9/2). Work at least 2 hours/shift. Application and $25 background check required. Can accommodate groups of up to 25. Growing Great Saturdays: partner with youth in gardening, caring for farm animals, building and constructing, cooking and serving meals, kitchen projects such as preserving, plus, science, art, and journaling activities, and more! First 3 Saturdays of the month Feb-October (except 7/2 and 9/3). 10:00-2:00 pm. Application and $25 background check required. Can accommodate group of up to 10. Winter Wonders fieldtrip chaperone. Saturdays September-January. Application and $25 background check required
Littleton Immigrant Resource Center: This award winning program provides immigrants with services to help them participate in their community.
Bemis Library: 6014 S. Datura St., Littleton, CO 80120. Volunteer: Language Partners help students improve their spoken and written English. 1:1 tutoring 1-2 hours/week for 6 months. Volunteers are trained on teaching techniques and the LIRC curriculum. Citizenship Mentors: 1:1 mentoring or small group citizenship classes. General Volunteer: help answer question, phones, data entry or other projects
Asian Pacific Development Center: nonprofit organization supporting the Asian American Pacific Islander community. For 35 years we have been committed to providing culturally appropriate behavioral health, primary medical care, and related services through an integrated system of care.
1537 Alton St, Aurora, CO 80010. 303-923-2920. Volunteer: Mentor -help Asian and Pacific Islander youth opportunities to grow academically and socially. 1 hour/week or 2 hrs/biweekly for one year. Background check required.
Colfax Community Network: advocates for and works on behalf of families and children residing in low-income transient housing (primarily residential motels) along Colfax Avenue – not exclusively refugees. 1585 Kingston St., Aurora 80010. Volunteer: tutor, donate food, clothing, and school supplies
Reach out to refugees in your local schools: ESL/ELL teachers and principals will know families in need.
Support multicultural efforts at your school. In Cherry Creek: Office of Inclusive Excellence. Other districts have their own diversity and equity programs.
Read books with your family or school about refugees: http://www.colorincolorado.org/booklist/refugee-experience-books-children