Serve in the Chicago Area

Refugees need to know they are not alone! A volunteer can make a profound difference in the life of a refugee.

A refugee’s fleeing is sudden and unplanned. In order to save their lives, they leave behind family, friends, homes, belongings, jobs and everything that is familiar. Refugees start their lives over in the U.S. with next to nothing and face the difficult challenge of learning a new culture and language. What’s more, refugees’ deepest wounds are often emotional. Even after reaching safety in the U.S., many refugees still struggle with fear and loneliness. They need welcome, friendship and a place to belong.

The Pack and New Neighbor programs below address these very issues. 

Volunteers provide needed supplies to turn empty apartments into livable homes for newly arriving families. They help refugees practice English and introduce them to their new community. But most of all, volunteers help ease the loneliness and isolation experienced by so many refugees.

Are you interested in resettling a refugee through Private Sponsorship? Learn more about this exciting new program and how you can get involved. 

Provide a Pack

When refugees arrive in the U.S., they only have what they can carry. While refugees receive three months of help through a resettlement agency, starting over from scratch is daunting. Through these Pack programs, volunteers can make a huge difference by providing essential supplies, food, and most especially, a warm welcome. 

Turn an empty apartment into a home by collecting and delivering basic household essentials for the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom (see the list). You’ll meet a refugee family on the day they arrive in the U.S. and personally welcome them. Learn more about Welcome Packs here.

Ethnic Grocery
Care Pack

You can meet a newly arrived refugee family and deliver a care pack of culturally appropriate foods that offer a comforting taste of home (see the list). Collect a range of produce, meats, and staple foods and deliver them within a week of the refugee family’s arrival.

Refugee families don’t have their normal community of family and friends around them to help welcome a new baby. You can bless refugees by collecting and/or delivering much needed items such as clothing, blankets, bottles, diapers and baby wipes to families that are expecting a new arrival. (See the list.)

You can help to provide a refugee family with useful household supplies as they rebuild their lives in the U.S. Delivered by volunteers, these essentials provide families with extra support along with a neighborly visit that blesses refugees and volunteers alike (See the list).

All Packs are delivered to refugees living in the Chicagoland area.

Become a New Neighbor

When you become a New Neighbor, you are helping to ease the loneliness and isolation that many refugees experience when moving to a new country. These programs work to address cultural hurdles such as language, academics and citizenship, but also pave the way for beautiful, mutual friendships. 

New Neighbor

Visit a newly arrived refugee family in Chicago once a week for three months. This is a hands-on way to "welcome the stranger” in our midst. Volunteers and refugees have the opportunity to build bridges of understanding, cross-cultural learning and friendship. Volunteers answer basic questions about life in the U.S., help refugees practice their English and introduce them to their community.

New Neighbor
for Youth

Adult volunteers visit weekly for three months with an elementary, middle, or high school student, coordinated with Exodus and the child's parents. Volunteers help increase academic skills and confidence through fun activities, and partner with refugee parents on how to support their child's learning. Resource guides are provided.

New Neighbor Conversations

This program connects refugees with native English speakers to improve refugees’ conversational English and to build relationships in the process. Volunteers commit to a three-month partnership with a refugee. Conversation partners meet weekly in the refugee's home at a mutually agreed upon time.

New Neighbor Citizenship

Refugees are eligible to apply for citizenship after residing in the U.S. for five years — an exciting milestone in their resettlement. In this program, volunteers commit to meet with a refugee once per week for three months in order to help them learn about American history, civics, and English in preparation for the citizenship exam.

All New Neighbor opportunities are in Chicago or DuPage County
Engaging with Refugees: Cross-Cultural Training is provided before becoming a New Neighbor.

Serve as an individual or group in DuPage County

Heidi’s House, a gathering place for refugees and volunteers, is now open in Wheaton, Illinois! Heidi’s House provides space for church groups, families, or individuals to volunteer together.

Whether you want to serve monthly as a homework helper, or host a weekly conversation group, there are many ways to connect with refugee neighbors. Contact us to learn more!

Custom Activities & Events

There are many ways to walk alongside refugees, and volunteers bring unique visions and skillsets that go beyond the options above.
Custom service activities and events can be created especially for you! Connect with us today to start a conversation.

Scroll to Top

Don't Miss an Update!

Sign up for the latest news and events—plus meaningful stories of friendship between refugees and volunteers!