Imagine coming to the United States after years of being a refugee. As you're struggling to integrate into your new home and rebuild your life, a pandemic breaks out that transforms the routines of your new country.
Can you imagine the fear and confusion if you didn’t understand the language and culture?
Overcomers Refugee Services helps resettled refugees in the Concord area. Our staff and many of our board members were refugees themselves. Being multilingual and coming from the same cultures, we deliver information and support by people they can trust in a way they can understand. We rely on a host of dedicated volunteers to help us in our mission.
COVID-19 has changed the services that we provide, and how we provide them, but our commitment to helping New Americans remains unwavering.
In March, Overcomers’ leadership created a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan and assembled a Crisis Response Team. The Crisis Response Team, consisting of staff, board members and volunteers, has been working hard to ensure that our New American community members stay healthy and safe, and are able to navigate the many confusing aspects of the coronavirus crisis. We also hired three translators – all former refugees – to act as liaisons between clients and volunteers throughout the crisis.
During this crisis, Overcomers has been:
- Translating and distributing COVID information and updates.
- Educating about social distancing and encouraging compliance.
- Getting masks, food packages and food coupons to those in need.
- Helping with the IRS website so people get the right financial stimulus payment.
- Supporting parents with homebound school children.
- Arranging for safe transportation to and interpretation during medical visits.
- Filing and updating unemployment applications.
- Advising clients on how to protect themselves and others as businesses reopen and clients go back to work.
Our goal, as always, is to educate and empower our clients with the knowledge and resources they need to be able to function on their own. Many clients were able to help themselves once given some guidance, but many others still have limited English proficiency and we didn’t want to take any chances with people’s health, so we provided more hands-on support than usual for those who needed it.
We will be continuing with this important work for as long as necessary, but now that things are calming down, we are looking ahead.
We don’t know what life post-COVID will look like, but we do know that we need to shift our focus back to educating, empowering and engaging our clients.
In the new normal of social distancing, so much of life has moved on-line. Working with our clients during this crisis has convinced us that computer literacy is an essential and necessary skill. This is a skill that many new Americans do not have.
Children of New Americans are falling behind in their education. Children are being schooled remotely and their parents aren’t able to help because they don’t know how to use the computer. From remote learning to school and sports registrations, employment applications to essential financial transactions: It’s all happening on-line.
So, we will be launching a new Computer Literacy Program which will focus on empowering New Americans to be able to do their banking online, read and send emails, apply for jobs, and help their children succeed in school.
Your support from our December 2019 campaign gave us the momentum to be able to respond quickly in a variety of ways when the COVID-19 crisis hit. As we continue our work, we remain deeply grateful for your support. We could not do this work without you!
Thank you for helping us empower New Americans in New Hampshire, especially through the COVID-19 crisis. We are all in this together, and together we will overcome.