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.

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, both financially and emotionally. Through these Pack programs, volunteers can make a huge difference by providing essential supplies, food, and most especially, a warm welcome. 

Welcome to America! Pack

Turn an empty apartment into a home by collecting and delivering basic household items for the kitchen, bath and bedroom, as well as a first month’s supply of food staples. You’ll meet a refugee individual or family on the day they arrive in the U.S. and personally welcome them with the essentials.

Care Pack

Refugee individuals and families continue to have needs beyond their initial three months of assistance from a resettlement agency. You can encourage them by providing a Care Pack — an assortment of needed household items and a personal visit that shows care and hospitality to our refugee neighbors.


Baby Care Pack

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.


Education Pack

Staying on track with academics at home can be especially difficult without the right materials, for students and parents alike. You can help refugee children and their families with resources by providing learning games, flash cards and other needed supplies to set them up for success at school and beyond.


Welcome to America! Packs are delivered to refugees arriving in the City of Chicago (typically Rogers Park and West Ridge neighborhoods).
All other Packs are delivered to refugees living in DuPage County or Cook County.

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 or middle school student in their home, coordinated with Exodus and the child's parents. Volunteers help increase academic skills and confidence through enjoyable learning activities, and model for refugee parents how to support their child's learning. Materials 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 at a mutually agreed upon time and place.

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 and civics in preparation for the citizenship exam.

All New Neighbor opportunities are in Chicago or DuPage County.
Cross-Cultural and Refugee Issues Training is provided before becoming a New Neighbor.

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.

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