In April, HIAS celebrated the invaluable contributions of our volunteer network.
Welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to the United States would not be possible without the tireless efforts of the thousands of volunteers across the country. This fact was only reinforced through a four-part series published in honor of National Volunteer Week (April 15 - April 21) which highlighted the perspectives of volunteers and volunteer coordinators, as well as in-person appreciation events in Silver Spring, Maryland and New York City.
On Wednesday, April 25, approximately 50 members of the HIAS volunteer community in the Greater Washington D.C. area gathered together at the organization’s Silver Spring headquarters. The crowd was a mix of new mentors and seasoned legal, advocacy and letter-writing volunteers.
Volunteers were encouraged to share their HIAS story by writing it down and posting it to the wall.
One volunteer wrote, “I started volunteering with HIAS the days after the Women’s March because I saw HIAS as a place to put Jewish values into action. Over the past year I have participated in rallies, letter-writing, and Shabbat dinners with HIAS. This community has meant so much to me in these trying times. My HIAS story is just getting started!”
A few days later on the evening of Sunday, April 29, a similar gathering took place at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue in New York.
Around 40 HIAS staff, volunteer ESL tutors, career mentors, interpreters, New York Neighbors, host organization volunteers and clients from Russia, Ukraine, Central African Republic, Belize, and Tajikistan came together to celebrate the communities of welcome thriving in New York City. HIAS’ local community partner, Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI) was also represented at the event.
One of his group’s members, an orthodox Jew, spoke of his experience serving alongside SIVs in Afghanistan.
The event featured an entrancing performance by Iranian musician, Kaveh Haghtalab, a specialist in traditional Kamancheh music.
“It was very inspiring to see clients interacting with volunteers, among each other, and exchanging numbers and contacts,” said Yulia Lapina, and intern with HIAS New York.
“This event definitely strengthened the HIAS community and was clearly meaningful for volunteers, clients and staff.”
To learn more about becoming a HIAS volunteer, click here.