Update from the Refugee Family

The Syrian Refugee Family team would like to thank everyone who donated yarn for Fattoum’s knitting projects. You have our sincere thanks because this work gives her a great sense of purpose. We are looking for someone who would like to play chess occasionally with Mohammad. Please contact Jeanne Kerl ([email protected]) if you are interested.

Both Mohammad and Aya got jobs this week with a catering company that makes food for Mariano’s, Whole Foods, etc. Aya and Mohammad also started intensive English classes at Truman College this week.

The family is accomplishing a great deal when you consider they only arrived in the U.S. in September. The mother, Fattoum, is beginning to attend English classes through a parent program provided by the Skokie school system and their father Khaled continues English classes with Refugee One. Uday, the youngest, is doing  very well in his studies at Niles West High School. The family continues to face the many challenges of adjusting to a new culture, but they are making friends and learning quickly. The family and the volunteer team celebrated the holiday season with a party hosted by Carol and Brian Nielsen.

The family’s oldest daughter, her husband, and their young child are still living in a camp in Turkey. We hope that they will arrive in Chicago soon, despite the current climate in Washington.

We thank each one of you who have donated time, energy, rides, or money to this effort. Your generosity has made their journey much easier.

UCE Mitten Tree

mitten-treeUCE’s Mitten Tree has collected gifts and holiday food for over 25 years and is a wonderful tradition of generosity for those who need help during the holiday season. Contributing generously not only helps those in need, but helps each of us add to the love in our hearts during the holiday season. Paper mittens (with the wished for items noted) will be available from Nov. 6 to November 29 at tables at the back of the sanctuary. Please bring your new, unwrapped gifts to UCE as soon as you purchase them. The final deadline for bringing gifts is Dec. 4. We are providing gifts and food for nine groups this year.

Volunteers are needed to help at the Mitten Tree tables on Sundays and to sort, wrap, and deliver gifts.

Dates: November 6, 13, 20, 27 and December 4 when all gifts are due

Times: After each service -10:15-11:00 and 12:00-12:30

If you wish to volunteer please contact Jeanne Kerl or Melanie Kitchner. If you have questions about Mitten Tree please contact Carol Nielsen.

Introducing the Khalaf Family

Submitted by: Jane Kenamore

We are looking forward to a visit from the Khalaf family on Sunday, October 30, at the 11 a.m. service.  As you know, UCE is co-sponsoring the Khalafs with Refugee One, a not-for-profit agency that resettles refugees.

The family is composed of parents Khaled and Fattoum;  son Mohammed, 22; daughter Aya, 18; and son Uday, 14.  The family left their home in Aleppo in 2012 and had lived in a refugee camp in Turkey before their arrival here on September 8.  Since they arrived, they’ve been settling in and have become familiar with their neighborhood in Skokie and the greater environs.

Church mentors have shown them how to get around on the El; taken them grocery shopping, shopped for winter clothing, visited the beach in Evanston; and taken them to the Art Institute, the Cultural Center, and Millennium Park.

Currently the entire family is focusing on learning English.  They attend ESL classes up to four days/week through Oakton College and Refugee One; and Lynn Kendall and Meredith Haydon are reinforcing the classes with home instruction.  The entire family is enthusiastic about learning English, so they make great students!  (No bragging, but the kids are the stars of their classes!)

Finally, a cultural note:  When you meet them in church, it’s ok for UCE women to shake hands with the men in the family.  The women in the family are not comfortable, however, with shaking hands with men they don’t know.  The common gesture in lieu of the handshake is to place your hand over your heart.

Our Giving House

giving-houseThe Giving House is under the care of Will and Johna Van Dyke for this year. We publicize, and see to it that there is a sponsor every month. The sponsors volunteer for a given month, and are responsible for 2 things. 1 – matching the amount of product in the Giving House for their month, and 2 – getting it to Hilda’s Place along with the existing contributions from the house. However your group decides to accomplish this is entirely up to you. We will count up the contents, call you with the amount you need to contribute on the last day of the month. When you are ready, we will choose a time to consolidate all of the items for your group to deliver. We will need a contact from your group.

This is an excellent activity for Covenant Groups or other groups. It is simple, rewarding, team oriented, and not too expensive. ($10.00 to $20.00 a person) If you have a problem with the cost of your particular month, just let us know. We will help out.

The collection and counting of the Giving House items is made on the last day of the month by us. Please let us know if you have any questions. We hope your group, will choose to volunteer for one of the months coming up.

We have very few sponsors for the rest of this church year. Could you all please make your choices of which month works for you, and we will try to accommodate you. Could you also get back to us if you no longer wish to participate in the Giving House program and tell us how we could make it better for you? We are currently searching for someone to sponsor the month of October which would be collected on November 1st.

Thanks for all you do!

Please contact Johna or Will Van Dyke

[email protected]

[email protected]

From the Syrian Refugee Family Team

Khalaf Family

The Syrian refugee family we are sponsoring are getting settled in. They are delightful: friendly, outgoing, eager to learn English, and to get settled in America. We have taken them shopping for clothing essentials, but we still need many specific items. If you can help, please bring your donations to the box under the coat rack at UCE. Thank you!

Clothing for the Khalaf Family

We need the following specific items for our family. Everything should be good quality and in excellent condition – 
 

Women

Winter coat—long, black, xlarge
Winter gloves—black/grey, large
Leggings—black, sm/med
Boots—black, 7.5/8 and 9
Shirts/turtlenecks—muted colors, sm/med, xlarge
 

Men

Jeans—49 waist/23 long
Jeans—28 waist/28 long
Jeans—31 waist/28 long
Pants—khakis/dress pants, 49 waist/23 long
Shirts—pullover/polo, muted colors, medium, xlarge
Hoodies—muted colors, medium
Sweaters—muted colors, xlarge
Shoes—muted colors, 8, 9.5, 12
Boots—black, 8, 9.5, 12
Winter gloves—black/grey, large
Winter hats—black, knitted
Winter coats—medium and xlarge

 

We also need a large, deep cooking pot with lid.

Note: We can shorten men’s pants if needed.

Our Giving House

Our Giving House is under the care of the Van Dyke Covenant Group for this year. We publicize, and see to it that there is a sponsor every month. The sponsors volunteer for a given month, and are responsible for two things. One –  matching the amount of product in the Giving House for their month, and two – getting it to Hilda’s Place along with the existing contributions from the house. However your group decides to accomplish this is entirely up to you. We will count up the contents, call you with the amount you need to contribute on the last day of the month, and when you are ready, we will choose a time to consolidate all of the items for your group to deliver. We will need a contact from your group.

This is an excellent activity for Covenant Groups or other groups. It is simple, rewarding, team oriented, and not too expensive. ($10.00 to $20.00 a person) If you have a problem with the cost of your particular month, just let us know. We will help out.

The collection and counting of the Giving House items is made on the last day of the month by us. Please let us know if you have any questions. We hope you will choose to volunteer.

Please contact Johna or Will Van Dyke.

 

News about the Syrian Refugee Family

The Refugee Team is busy preparing for the arrival of the Haj Khalaf family who will be arriving on Sept. 8th. The family fled from Syria in August of 2012 and have been living in a refugee camp in Turkey since then.  We will soon be welcoming Khaled (the father), Fattoum (the mother), Aya, (their 18-year-old daughter) and Uday (their 14-year-old son). We don’t yet know where their apartment will be located, but Refugee One is working on that now. The Apartment team will be busy cleaning and preparing it and the Furnishings team is ready to move loads of furniture and housewares into their new home. We will welcome the family at the airport and the mentors will start visiting the family and showing them how to do basic tasks such as grocery shopping, shopping for school, using the pharmacy, riding the “L”, etc. Mentors will also arrange for social outings for the family, so they get to know their new home city. We will mentor the family for a 6-month period.

Thanks again to everyone for their generous support (time, money, kind words.)  Additional donations are welcome, simply make a check to UCE with a notation that the donation is for refugee resettlement fund. Thank you, all!

Syrian Refugee Family Team Needs Volunteers

The team working on sponsorship of the Syrian refugee family is gearing up for the next stage. We’ve raised the necessary funds, now we are gearing up for the arrival of the family in mid-September. But, we still need help!

Mentors: We need 5 more volunteers to sign up for this role. Our mentors will visit the family at least 6-10 times over the next year. Each mentor visits once every other month, although additional visits will be necessary in the first few months. It’s possible that our family won’t need help for an entire year, but we ask that mentors prepare for this possibility.  Mentors will help the family get used to living in the U.S., showing them how to shop in a grocery store, use the CTA, or explain other everyday parts of life. Mentors also arrange for social events to help the family become more familiar with the Chicagoland area and to have fun together.  If you want to ease this family’s transition, please contact Jane Kenamore at [email protected].

Furnishings team: This team had already done a great deal of work, but needs some additional help during the family’s move-in period (most likely mid-September). We need one additional volunteer who would help organize the moving of furniture and housewares into the family’s apartment. For more details, Contact Marilyn Wroblewski at [email protected].

Providing rides to appointments  If you could help take members of the family to appointments with your car. please contact Jeanne Kerl at [email protected].  We are anticipating that they will need this help, so we are asking for several people to be on call.

Many thanks to all of our gracious, generous donors and to the volunteers who have already put in lots of time in preparation for the arrival of the family.

—The Refugee Family team

 

NEWS FROM THE FAIR TRADE CART AND F.A.S.T.

The Fair Trade Cart and F.A.S.T. are happy to announce that we are now supporting a new enterprise at Chute School here in Evanston. This is in addition to our yearly donation to help selected Chute families at the holdays. Our contact is UCE member Randy Barrengos who is a social worker at the school and here is what Randy wrote to us to describe this project.

“For the past couple of years, Chute has had a garden club led by two or three dedicated teachers, that had about 12-15 kids attending each week for part of the school year. This year we decided to expand the student’s work in the Chute garden to include other healthy lifestyle activities. Hence, we have renamed our club, Actions For Healthy Eagles Club. (Eagles are our school mascots). At the first meeting, we had 25 students attending. Our club activity that day was picking kale from the garden, and preparing the kale and other ingredients to make healthy smoothies. The kids were totally into it and I was personally surprised how they took a risk and actually drank their smoothies that had healthy kale in them!!!! We also had the students fill out a survey about what they would like to do in the club. We are very excited about our new club and some of the great activities we are putting on the calendar which includes having guest chefs cook with the students, professional yoga teachers for yoga classes, nature walks to the lake, and our list goes on.”

Randy tells us now that the club meets three times each month and averages between twelve and twenty students at each meeting. They have already had sessions with a cook and a yoga instructor. She welcomes ideas, donations, and volunteers who can share a healthy living skill or talent with the students for one or two class sessions. Contact Joan Retzloff at [email protected] to share your ideas for the club.