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News and Needs

News & Needs

Current Needs

  • indoor privacy screen/room divider
  • approx 3’x7′ cupboard or armoire for storage
  • Chromebook
  • grocery cart

To donate an item, please use our in-kind donations form.

About the “Settle” in Resettlement

August 3, 2022

As we move forward with our fourth resettlement, we reflect on the process.

 

In Week 1, we focus on a safe place to live, a full fridge, a warm welcome at the airport and later, the apartment, and a dinner of familiar, native dishes. We assess English proficiency and career skills, schedule health exams, and explore their new hometown.

 

But the main goal of this first week is to help the family “settle,” not just in the physical sense but emotionally as well. It takes time for their fears and apprehensions to ease; for them to feel safe, secure, and supported by a community that cares for them. This mental shift from “danger central” to “I am safe” to “new hopes and dreams” takes time. But it all starts with that warm welcome, which is the heart of Open Arms.

 

Thank you for being a part of us.

The Road to Independence

July 27, 2022

To most of us, a car is an essential. It is how we get to work, shop, see friends and family, and get things done. From our teens, it is also a mark of independence. Automobiles are not available to most refugees. This limits housing and work opportunities, not to mention independence, a key goal.

 

We are pleased to have enabled the transfer of three cars to refugees in the last four months. Each donation originated through supporting organizations of Open Arms. The most recent is from the spouse of an Open Arms volunteer to a working couple with two kids in White Plains. Several community sponsorship programs like ours wanted the vehicle, but they all coalesced in support of this family as most ready and most in need.

 

If you have a working vehicle you would like to donate, please let us know!

Using Your Connections to Help Masooma

July 19, 2022

Masooma N. is a remarkable 34-year-old electrical engineer, well qualified in building systems and distribution networks, who wants and needs a job. Masooma (pronounced MAH-suma) is working towards her doctorate in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and received “Special Immigrant Visa” (SIV) status for helping the American effort in Afghanistan. She speaks English and is ready to start work right away.

 

This is Open Arms’ fourth resettlement effort. As such, there is a dedicated local “Community Team” to orient and support her. Financial support will be needed, but Masooma’s resettlement costs are expected to be less than other refugees’. What she needs most are introductions to people and companies who might help her identify job opportunities in the field of electrical engineering and/or AI.

 

Sharing job networks was an important reason for establishing Supporting Organizations. If you or someone you know can share knowledge and advice on finding jobs in these fields, please let us know!

Reflecting on our first resettlement:
Blessings all around

July 7, 2022

It was only six months ago that we welcomed our first refugee, and it’s a toss-up who was more excited – Freshta or the volunteers, some of whom who had already spent months anticipating her needs. It was an emotional homecoming, with hugs, gifts, and the relief that our young Afghan refugee, who had narrowly escaped death, was finally in our midst.

 

Despite Freshta’s language challenges, it was clear from the outset that she was determined to work hard and ultimately advance her career goal of advocating for women’s rights through legal channels in America. And now, on her six-month anniversary here, Freshta is taking a big step in the direction of her dreams as she begins a new job in the Westchester County Court system.

 

As we reflect on our first resettlement, we marvel at how quickly our first refugee has found a new role in our community, enriching us all with her courage, resilience, and sense of hope.

Making Ossining Their Own

June 29, 2022

Last week, our ‘newest neighbors’ moved from the Center at Mariandale into their new home in Ossining, within walking distance to their church. They’ve already met their town supervisor, checked out books from the library, swum at their community center, and ridden bikes along the Aqueduct trail. They’ve also registered for schools, started summer programs and told their ESL tutors to “relax, it will be ok.” They have been offered jobs too, once their Social Security numbers come through. And yes, they’ve also chilled in their apartment, and found time to laugh.

 

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome of this new family. It is their new life they are creating, with many challenges to come, but it has been beautiful to be with them on their journey.

Supporting Our Newest Neighbors

June 22, 2022

Last week’s June 16 fundraising event drew a new and lively crowd and, together with the 2:1 match from the David Swope Fund, raised over $7500!  A big thank you to Sing Sing Kill Brewery for hosting and to Hudson Roots for organizing the successful event. 

 

A small story: The week before, Open Arms threw a surprise 14th birthday party for the youngest Ico, with Feliz Cumpleaños music, modest gifts and a $100 gift card. At the store last week, the birthday boy steered us away from games and sports he loves, to find headphones. He bought two pairs – one for his brother – and then found a hair iron for his mom. That’s the family we are privileged to work with.

 

So again, thank you to all who have supported this wonderful family, through the Sing Sing Kill Brewery event or just quietly contributing by check or online. For more info, including how to donate funds, furnishings, Spanish skills or time, please click on the links below.

Resettlement x Two

June 16, 2022

Sometimes the world works as it should: The Ico family needs housing. Freshta is moving to a smaller place closer to her new, better-paying legal job in White Plains. And the Center at Mariandale provided interim housing to bridge the timing. Both rentals are below market rates, specifically to help refugees.

 

This “housing swap” does not lower our costs but it does shift and focus the in-kind donations of furniture that we need. Our evolving list of needs includes: 

  • an indoor privacy screen/room divider
  • a ~3’x7′ cupboard or armoire for storage
  • a Chromebook
  • a grocery cart

You can help us resettle these wonderful newcomers by donating an item in-kind, by volunteering your time (especially if you speak Spanish), or by donating (tripled with the Swope Fund 2:1 match). We invite you to give the way that best fits you.

Our work depends upon the generous donations of our community. If you are interested in supporting our efforts by donating directly, or if you would like to subscribe for periodic updates, please click below. Thank you for your support.

June 7, 2022

With Your Help, Life Begins Anew

The Ico family was warmly welcomed at the airport, at their interim home at Mariandale (with native dish Bandeja Paisa) and on a summery stroll through Ossining, starting with Colombian pastries at the Town Supervisor’s home and ending with private tours of the Community Center and Library. 

 

Sandra is learning the alphabet in English, her two teen boys have been out on bikes, and we joined them all on the free bus to Croton Summerfest. Volunteer translators and our Chairs helped the family through appliance safety, home checklist, health interview, initial job discussions, school registration forms, ESL plans, and health exam at Open Door.

 

That’s just the first six days of this resettlement. The family appreciates the volunteers’ work, organization and, yes, friendship. The volunteers love this work. And now it is time for the rest of us to do our part.

 

Please support the family and take full advantage of the Swope Fund’s 2:1 match by attending our Sing Sing Kill Brewery fundraiser at 7 PM on June 16 or by donating online now.

June 1, 2022

Open Arms Welcomes New Family

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of a beautiful family of three who escaped persecution in Colombia and are fortunate to land in our caring community. Our volunteers are working to get the mom and her two teenage sons settled as soon as possible, but that comes at a financial cost.
 
Just to start with: New housing requires a security deposit and two months’ rent up front. Beds and bedding must be purchased new. Food and living expenses have to be covered while Mom is interviewing and waiting for her job to start. There is a cost for ESL classes, and not all clothing can be bought at thrift shops. The list goes on, as does the need. Thank you for your continued support.

May 23, 2022

Festivity On Tap:
Thursday, June 16, 7 – 10 PM

Sing Sing Kill Brewery

Join us for an evening of fun and fundraising! Hosted in partnership with Hudson Roots and Sing Sing Kill Brewery, this community social is geared to acquaint our neighbors with the important work Open Arms is doing to welcome and resettle refugees in the greater Westchester area.
 
Tickets are $105/person and include two drinks, light fare, and a $70 donation* to Open Arms. They can be purchased in advance (click below) or at the door with cash or via Venmo. Please come and bring your friends!
 
*Thanks to a generous 2-to-1 matching grant from the Swope Fund, your gift triples in value from $70 to $210!

May 18, 2022

 

Extending “Open Arms” to More Refugees

Two big announcements: First, in recognition that our scope and support now extend far beyond Ossining, Ossining for Refugees is changing its name to Open Arms for Refugees

 

Second, the David Swope Fund has awarded “Open Arms” a $250,000 grant. The grant is  payable as a 2-to-1 match on the next $100,000 raised for future refugees. It also includes a $50,000 endowment to cover future special needs. Ultimately this grant is expected to make possible the resettlement of ten refugee families. And we know, sadly, that many refugees will be coming.

 

David Swope was a beloved and astute local philanthropist whose grants improved people’s lives. We are honored to be part of his legacy. And we thank all the volunteers and Supporting Organizations who have made us worthy of this timely and inspiring donation.

May 11, 2022

 

A Temporary Lull in Resettlements

Last week, we anticipated a Guatemalan refugee family arriving here, as our third resettlement in four months. But, like the Afghan and Ukranian families we worked with in April, this family was ultimately offered a way to keep their kids in their schools and stay where they were.  There is much generosity in this country.
 
Why, you may ask, are we working on moving families already here instead of on new arrivals? First, because we were asked, and the need was urgent and real. And second, because April and May have seen a lull in resettlement, after the heavy push to move Afghans out of the military camps.
 
Sadly, the lull in resettlements will not last. Next week we will share important news on how – with your continued support – we think we will be able to respond. 

May 4, 2022

 

At the end of the day, refugees find their way

Through these posts, we have tried to convey the ups and downs of resettling refugees. These beautiful people leave an indelible impression on our hearts. It is a privilege to be allowed into their lives at such a vulnerable time, and a pleasure to explore every possible contingency to assure their wellbeing. As you play such a vital role in this work, here is an update of where our newest families have landed.

  • We are happy to report that the Ukrainian family found just what they needed in New Jersey, where the community is supporting them as we would.
  • After careful consideration, the Afghan family of five, who fell in love with Ossining on Earth Day and vice versa, has decided to stay in New Jersey where their children can finish up the school year, the wife can continue vital physical therapy, and the rents and wages are more favorable in the long run.

Latest news: we are in discussions with Catholic Charities and a Guatemalan family. It could be a wonderful fit for all. Stay tuned….

Apr 26, 2022

 

Supporting temporary stays in the U.S. for Ukrainian Refugees

Did you know… the Biden administration has established Uniting for Ukraine, which allows Americans to sponsor Ukrainians under a system known as humanitarian parole. Those willing and able to provide financial support for the Ukrainians for up to 18 months must be vetted before they can be accepted.

 

Ossining for Refugees has a small group exploring the program on behalf of all of us, and we have taken initial steps to make this a reality. We have submitted preliminary paperwork and will be getting names of Ukrainians needing to be sponsored. Applications must be made by individuals, but individuals can receive support from houses of worship or other groups.
If you (or your house of worship) wish to be part of this program, kindly notify us at info@ossiningforrefugees.org.

Apr 20, 2022

 

At the Heart of What We Do

Two weeks ago, O4R offered safe emergency housing for a world-weary Ukrainian family. Happily, that family has found a warm outpouring of support in NJ. But we were ready.

 

In the last 24 hours, we have been asked to resettle an Afghan family of five, beginning May 1. Such short notice is not unusual and so we immediately went to work looking for affordable housing, alerting the schools, lining up volunteers, and exploring jobs for the dad. We do all this not knowing if the family will choose to move here, where they have no family or other connections.

 

This is what O4R was created to do, and we embrace the work and the uncertainty. It reflects that we as a community are offering this family a choice, standing with them while they make the important decisions in their lives. Your generosity and flexibility
support us in this mission, and we thank you.

Apr 12, 2022

 

An Early Arrival from Ukraine

Last week, we were alerted by WJCI and a rabbi in NJ of the urgent need for housing for a Ukrainian family of nine, with days left on space in a hostel in NYC. We checked with key Supporting Organizations and within 48 hours O4R was able to offer two months of interim housing, with support for food, transportation, and ESL as needed. We also noted reasons that this family might be best resettled in NJ. The Rabbi has now offered them his own home through Passover.

 

“They also serve who stand and wait.” So a big thank you to the Center at Mariandale, to WJCI, and to our volunteers for standing ready. It was a great relief to the family and the Rabbi to know that there was and is a safe option here in Westchester, while they try to find what is best for this family.

 

Thank all of you for standing with us.

Apr 5, 2022

 

Helping Ukrainian Refugees

Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and we are ready to serve those fleeing their beloved homeland and seeking refuge here. O4R volunteers are prepared to address their immediate physical needs – food, shelter, medical care – and are sensitive to the deep emotional wounds they will continue to suffer. In this season of religious holidays, including Passover, Easter, and Ramadan, we pray for peace and look forward to providing stability, comfort and hope to Ukrainian refugees. Thank you, as always, for your support. We will keep you posted.

Mar 29, 2022

 

Thrift Shops to the Rescue!

Thrift shops of O4R Supporting Organizations have been a key part of how refugees (and all of us) can live better on a budget. Just last weekend, Baseer and family discovered a lovely table and chairs and other things they liked at St. John’s Thrift Shop in Pleasantville. The IFCA Thrift Shop, reopening April 5 in a larger space across from Four Seasons in Ossining, has also made its clothing available to refugees resettling here, and will continue to do so with even more to offer. As our new neighbors go forward, these shops give them the power to make their own choices and pay their own way, at prices they can afford. You can help these shops help others by shopping there for yourself, which also benefits the environment by recycling gently used items.

Mar 23, 2022

On Sunday, March 20, Afghans from across Westchester came together to celebrate Nowruz (literally “new day”), which marks the arrival of spring and a new year. Attendees (including some lucky O4R volunteers) enjoyed traditional foods, from Qabili Palau, a delicious chicken dish with carrots, to the dried fruit and nut holiday specialty, Haft Mewa (“seven fruits”). There were kids on tricycles, Afghan music, lively conversation, and much dancing.

 

Organized in part by O4R volunteer Qudsia Haseq, the event was also a wonderful opportunity for Afghans to meet each other, and for us to find out how more experienced refugees had dealt with driving tests, DSS, and other challenges. A fun cultural event and an education all around! It felt great to be welcomed as friends of the Afghan community, and to share this joyful evening.

Mar 15, 2022

The Center at Mariandale is a retreat of simple beauty and peace. Its meandering pathways, contemplative maze and views of the Hudson River are themselves restorative and healing. Led by Dr. Carl Procario-Foley, the Center and its staff are instinctively welcoming and generous. 

 

Four weeks ago, as Baseer’s family bounced from one AirBNB to another, Carl offered part of their main building as a refuge for the family – for up to seven weeks, at no cost. The staff had a welcome party, hosted quilters giving a gift to Freshta, and gave Baseer and Nabila space to settle in while negotiations and arrangements proceed (successfully) at the camp.

 

A big thank you to the Center for this generous and timely gift, truly “welcoming the stranger.” We are proud to have them as a Supporting Organization of O4R.

Mar 8, 2022

THANK YOU to pianist Hui-Mei (“Fimi”) Lin and cellist Peter Seidenberg for their brilliant and moving Beethoven concert Saturday, March 5, at Briarcliff Congregational Church (BCC). The “free will” offering for Ossining for Refugees raised $3,200, with subsequent donations still being received by mail. In her thanks to the audience, Fimi, who is Music Director at BCC, shared her personal immigrant story. Coming from Taiwan alone to study music, the 15-year-old Fimi was given shelter, food, and friendship by a kindly young woman who remains her close friend today. This generosity has made all the difference in her life.

 

Successful resettlement requires money! Thank you, Peter and Fimi, for bringing joy to all in attendance while also supporting this important initiative to assist “our newest neighbors.” Bravo! 

Mar 1, 2022

Wow! In the last two weeks our network of Supporting Organizations came through with a double stroller, a tea kettle, a pressure cooker (as a surprise birthday gift) AND free housing through March 15, when Baseer’s family can move to the summer camp. 

 
In addition to covering the family’s food, ESL classes and basic necessities since their arrival, your donations are also making the summer camp job possible by paying for his on-the-job training, while O4R volunteers will help him get a NY driver’s license and meet other camp requirements. Here one month, Baseer is seizing the opportunity for a new life. See what we can do together! 
 
Thanks to all for being part of the O4R Support Network.

Feb 16, 2022

A big THANK YOU to our Supporting Organizations and their members.  Your donations, connections, and leads have lined up furnishings, starting food supplies, and warm clothing for all, plus many job options for F and Baseer. (F is accepting two, Baseer still exploring.)  Open Door, Neighbors Link and Career Closet have also provided key services on short notice. Connecting our four communities has magnified our impact.

Jan 25, 2022

We are pleased to report that our first refugee, F, is here, happy and thriving! She thanks everyone for welcoming her so warmly.

Open Arms for Refugees is a Community Sponsorship organization, bringing together neighbors, houses of worship, community organizations and key service providers in Ossining, Cold Spring and surrounding towns, with the shared mission of welcoming and integrating federally-sponsored refugees into our communities.