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.

Both virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities are available in accordance with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

Grocery Care Pack

Help meet the needs of refugee families who have lost their jobs or are underemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can participate in a Grocery Care Pack event by delivering food and essential items to refugees' doorsteps. See event dates when you sign up below.

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.

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 the City of Chicago.

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, coordinated with Exodus and the child's parents. Volunteers help increase academic skills and confidence through fun 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
Engaging with Refugees: Cross-Cultural Training is provided before becoming a New Neighbor.

Both virtual and in-person New Neighbor opportunities are available in accordance with current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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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