On Thanksgiving Day, a young man from Haiti walked out of an airplane terminal at Logan Airport into the welcoming arms of a group of volunteers. MSL (we prefer to use a recent immigrant’s initials to preserve their privacy) was sponsored to come here under a new USCIS program that vets Haitians seeking to come to the US to escape the horrific conditions currently present in Haiti. Our Immigrant Support Alliance (ISA) will be resettling MSL through social support, modest financial aid, and a place to live. Just yesterday we met with a wonderful Melrose family who has volunteered to host MSL in their home for the next three months. That meeting was another step along a carefully thought-out process to prepare a host family to welcome an immigrant into their home. MSL will move into this family’s home soon.
This will be the second time this family has been a host home. After their first experience with a Nepalese woman, they were ready to step up again to help someone new. This time, as with past clients, ISA volunteers will provide a variety of services toward helping MSL achieve independence here. The main job for ISA is to provide social support in the form of assistance to obtain English lessons, find food banks, help with winter clothing, teach how to use buses and subways, resumé preparation and assistance looking for a job, and other help. ISA also provides financial aid to a client to help with getting a T pass, a cellphone, and necessary personal items.
ISA has also applied to sponsor a middle-aged Haitian woman, RL. We are hoping to be in a position to bring RL here early next year. We will need to have a host home ready when she arrives.
What does it take to be a host home? An extra bedroom and a willingness to open your home to an immigrant. A host home usually is home for an immigrant for three months. ISA needs to have candidate host homes lined up when it is time for hosts to pass their role to someone else. ISA leaders meet with and prepare host families for their role as host. We have heard time and again from former host families how helping immigrants in this way has enriched their lives and of course the lives of those we resettle.
If you are interested in this idea, or know someone who might be, contact Bruce Alexander or Linda Alexander (former hosts to a Ugandan asylum seeker). We would be happy to have a phone/Zoom call or meet over coffee to tell you all about it.
Some FCCW readers may not have heard of the Immigrant Support Alliance. In January of 2023, ISA was transformed from the former Metro North Cluster of RIM. This was done to continue our successful work with immigrants, expand that work’s reach, and to encourage secular groups and individuals in our communities to join us in our mission. Four houses of worship remain major supporters of ISA: FCCW, First Congregational Church in Melrose (UCC), Temple Beth Shalom in Melrose, and the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church.