After learning about World Refugee Day, which was held on June 20th, I realized that volunteering with the refugee community would be a great way to be global from home. However, I am far from an expert on the topic so I asked my good friend, Becky, to do my first ever guest blog. Becky currently works with refugees in San Diego and she offers great ways to get involved and help refugees get resettled as they transition to life in their new home. If you live outside the San Diego area, be sure to visit the agency directory at Refugee Works to find where you can donate your time and talents.
Guest Blog by Becky Morines:
After interning at a refugee resettlement agency here in San Diego during my junior year at Point Loma Nazarene University, I was instantly attracted to the refugee population in San Diego. Refugees are people who have been forced to leave their own countries due to persecution, people whose own homes have become a place of fear and danger, and people who have seen political upheaval, instability, war, terror, and in some cases have experienced kidnappings, torture, and had loved ones murdered. After having my eyes opened to this population, I focused the majority of my academic research on the process to come to the United States for a refugee and the challenges faced during the assimilation process in the United States. I now work as the Employment Coordinator in the refugee resettlement department at Jewish Family Service of San Diego. Most of the refugees that we work with are from Iraq and Burma; however our agency is open to refugees and asylum seekers from all across the globe.
As the Employment Coordinator, my job is to act as the bridge between the refugee and the employer. I assist our clients prepare a resume, complete job applications, mock interviewing, and go out with them to look and apply for jobs. The refugees arriving in San Diego have English skills from proficiency to none at all. Some have never held a job, yet many hold Bachelor’s and Master degrees from their home country and have attained incredible professional experience. It is very humbling to be able to help with the job application and interview process that seems so normal to Americans, however extremely abnormal for those who have traveled thousands of miles to get here. I am inspired by every encounter simply based on their experience, courage, and strength. I am also encouraged by the incredible team that has dedicated their work to the refugee community in San Diego. There are new arrivals coming every month that need help adjusting to this new country and new people.
There are various satisfying ways to volunteer in the San Diego area. The refugee resettlement department has several different opportunities to volunteer that include administrative support, employment scouting, furniture delivery, and translation in a variety of languages. At Jewish Family Service, we have a Friendly-Match program that matches a mentor with a refugee family. By joining this program you would be able to build a lasting relationship with a family with hands on experience. These volunteers can assist the family grocery shopping, going to the bank, practicing English, or even just going to the beach! Lastly we need Employment Mentors who familiarize newly arrived refugees with the job search and application processes in the United States using a hands-on approach. Mentors play an integral role in helping refugees to become self-sufficient by providing them with the education and support necessary to secure employment.
If you enjoy traveling and working with people from different backgrounds, there are incredible opportunities right in your own backyard. You can also visit our website or contact me at for additional information.
Jewish Family Service of San Diego