An update about needs and opportunities to help Afghan refugees came today and is here below. We are going to make a special page for further updates. Please check the AFGHAN AID page in the left menu going forward. We'll post weekly shorter alerts as needed. This update is from Veterbo's Sister Laura who convened the community group a couple of weeks ago:
There are approximately 3300 refugees at Fort McCoy with more arriving daily. Fort McCoy could process over 10,000 refugees this fall. We have no indication as to how many (if any) refugees will be resettled in our area. The agencies and sites for resettlement are scrambling to get things in place and are not ready to take refugees yet. This means that each refugee could stay at Fort McCoy for 2+ months. Fort McCoy and various agencies are making plans for refugees to be on base through December. The refugees are in military housing, receiving three halal meals a day and receiving medical care (both physical and mental).
What agencies are helping at Fort McCoy:
Currently Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, American Red Cross and a representative for the USCCB (Catholic Bishops) are at the Fort. However, the Red Cross will be leaving shortly. Many, many other agencies are assisting on the resettlement side of things. I would imagine there are other agencies helping as well.
UPDATE: Team Rubicon will also be working with donations. If you want to learn more, you can check them out here: Team Rubicon | Built To Serve (teamrubiconusa.org
At this time, the greatest and most immediate need is a core team of organizers who are able to work full-time at Fort McCoy coordinating a variety of things. Catholic Charities is looking for:
- · Technical lead to organize MWR (morale, wellness and recreation centers) as well as organize and coordinate volunteers.
- · Technical lead to organize the legal support of the refugees.
- · Technical lead to organize distribution logistics at Fort McCoy.
These are paid full-time positions. It will be intense work through the fall, if you are interested or know of someone who might be, please contact me (S. Laura) ASAP. I will gladly share a job description with you.
Catholic Charities is asking for volunteers. Volunteers will be split into two categories; those that can help regularly at Fort McCoy and those that can work at CC or collection sites. For those interested in volunteering at the Fort, Catholic Charities is looking for individuals that can give a full week(s) commitment. There may be other opportunities to volunteer at the Fort and if you are interested, please sign up through the Catholic Charities website here - Volunteer Application Form (volgistics.com)
Catholic Charities is also looking for volunteers to process and sort donations and these volunteers would not need to go to Fort McCoy for this work. Additionally, while Catholic Charities is being pulling into refugee work, they need volunteers to assist in their various other projects and ministries. There will be many more volunteer needs as this situation unfolds.
United Way, through their platform Ugetconnected, is taking names of volunteers to share with agencies who are requesting volunteers.
UPDATE: The La Crosse area coordinators now Facebook group – Afghan Refugee Aid Coordination La Crosse. Afghan Refugee Aid Coordination - La Crosse | Facebook If you have FB please join! This is where we encourage people to post articles, updates, questions, etc. and where we can coordinate information in real time.
Catholic Charities has put out a list of donation needs and will update it as the needs change. You can find the list here - Afghanistan Refugee Assistance – Catholic Charities. More organizations are working on collections and links to their efforts will be available soon. If your donation effort would like to be included, email info by 9 a.m. on August 30: lmnettles-at-viterbo.edu
We are working on a Facebook Page to coordinate all of our efforts, ask our questions in real time and share ongoing information with each other. I will send out the link to the page as soon as it is ready to go live.
The next large group meeting will be on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. If you would like to attend for your group/agency, please email S. Laura.
UPDATE: If you are concerned about ensuring your donations are well spent, check out charities at Charity Navigator first.
- Catholic Charities of Wisconsin gets a 100 out of 100 rating ..
- No One Left Behind, Inc. earns a 90 out of 100
- American Red Cross gets 88.99 out of 100
- Some are new crowd-funded and not yet rated like Flyaway Emergency Afghan Rescue Mission. Here's a list from Mashable.