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  • Supporting Asylum Seekers through RIM (Refugee Immigration Ministry)

    Immigration has long been a central concern for Bruce and me. I’ve been an ESOL teacher and Bruce joined me in the classroom to help students with computer skills. Now that we are both retired, we decided to search for a way to help our immigrant neighbors.

    During one of last spring’s “Tuesday with Jesus” dinner, immigration attorney and church member Deirdre Giblin spoke of her work helping people seeking asylum. In conversations with Deirdre, we learned that when she needed to find help for her clients, one of her first calls would be to RIM (Refugee Immigration Ministry), So we began to find out what RIM is.

    RIM is a non-profit organization that provides community-based support for asylum seekers. RIM has offices in Malden and serves immigrants all over greater Boston. It does this through clusters of churches, synagogues and other faith communities. These clusters take on the support of RIM clients who, after vetting, are accepted for support. A cluster will support two or more asylum seekers with the necessities of life. Asylum applicants are not able to work for about 18 months until their work papers are approved.

    RIM Clusters work with Asylum Seekers to provide housing, food, transportation and community support until they are able to work. Each faith community in the cluster has one or more representatives that meet monthly to manage the support of its clients.

    Additional activities that clusters might provide are:

    • Bring a client to the hospital or doctor
    • Help find an apartment and furnishings
    • Enroll children in school
    • ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) training
    • Welcome clients by taking them to events

    In June, Bruce and I began attending monthly meetings of the Metro North cluster, along with Rev. Will and Rev. Judy. Metro North meets in Melrose at the First Congregational Church, and includes people from faith communities in Melrose, Wakefield, Winchester (St. Mary’s) and others.

    The Metro North cluster has three clients at this time:

    • A family from Egypt. A father who was a dentist there and his wife, who became politically active, which led to their leaving their home and seeking asylum here. They have two children who now attend public schools.
    • A transgender woman who left Honduras because of the persecution she was subject to.
    • A family from Libya, which includes a man who was a doctor there and his wife and two children.

    We believe that participating in the Metro North cluster is a great opportunity to be a nurturing community, serving in love and welcoming all with joy. There is already a small group of people within our congregation that have expressed their interest in helping immigrants and we would love to see more.

    We invite you to be a part of this. That might mean helping with a furniture appeal, buying tulip bulbs (an annual fund raiser in the fall) or being willing to respond when the need is critical. Please send an email to Linda so we can include you in our email distribution to hear about what is happening with RIM and the Metro North cluster.

    We’re happy to answer any questions you might have.

    —Linda and Bruce Alexander