While many of us are staying home and taking care of our spouses, children, parents, and friends, we are keenly aware that there are many people who do not have a place to call home or anyone to support them through the trials they are facing. In Jersey City, New Jersey, there is a Church World Service (CWS) office that also manages a temporary shelter for asylum seekers. This shelter is always in need of basic supplies for the people they are helping on their journey to safety. Blankets from CWS cover their beds and they know they will be safe from harm. This month, we are honoring those who care for us and keep us close to their hearts by supporting CWS’s mission that everyone should have warmth and care.
If you would like to donate in honor of someone special in your life, please visit https://oldfirstucc.breezechms.com/give/online and in the memo you can name who you would like to honor. You can also send a physical check to the office with a note of who you are honoring and we will get an acknowledgement card out to the person. If you want to donate directly to CWS’s Blanket Sunday mission, you can do so at https://cwsblankets.org/donate/
The following article was posted by CWS on May 18, 2020
CWS Blankets and Hygiene Kits for asylum seekers in New Jersey
The CWS office in Jersey City is full of hope. Everyone who walks through our doors—or, during this time of pandemic, talks to our staff on the phone or through a video call—is hopeful for the future. They have hope for their children, for their families and for the new, safe life they are building here in New Jersey.
Our Jersey City office opened their doors in 2015, welcoming new arrivals to northern New Jersey. We provide case management and employment services to refugees and asylum seekers so that they can build a foundation of self-sufficiency. We offer programs including health services, job preparation, basic needs support, case management, job placement and legal services.
Earlier this year, we expanded our work to include a temporary shelter for asylees and asylum seekers. We love being able to provide a safe space for people to breathe and figure out their next steps. Sadly, though, most of the people entering the shelter don’t have many personal belongings.
To help our guests feel better and more at home, we called upon the support that generous congregations and groups continue to give to the CWS Blankets and Kits programs. We placed an order for CWS Blankets and Hygiene Kits from our warehouse network. Thanks to these supplies, our shelter beds will be cozier, and our clients will feel clean and refreshed after their long journeys.
“The shelter is our biggest achievement this year but also our biggest challenge so far with the COVID-19 pandemic. With no one expecting it, it is hard to navigate,” says Mohamed Abbas, our Community Resource Developer in Jersey City. “We just opened the shelter in February and we did not expect the COVID-19 pandemic at all. We have clients who are able to look for jobs and start that process, but they can’t because they simply can’t go to work.”
Across the country, refugees are often particularly vulnerable in the face of any crisis, including coronavirus. Many have lost jobs and are struggling to pay rent, afford groceries or cover other basic expenses. Some are ineligible for stimulus checks or government support. “CWS Jersey City is particularly concerned for the newly arrived families who have been employed for less than six months and can’t get their full benefits,” Mohamed explains. “We are working diligently and remotely to support refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in the past couple months and are trying to stabilize in an uncertain world.”
Thanks to the generous supporters of our CWS Kits and Blankets programs, we are welcoming these new arrivals with a tangible reminder that they are not alone and that they are loved.