Submitted by Linnet Tse
St. John’s Episcopal Church in Larchmont, as a member of the Westchester Refugee Task Force (WRTF), sponsored a successful furniture drive, hoping to gather some basic furnishings for refugee families arriving in Connecticut this summer.
The response by the community was enthusiastic; sixty-seven local families arrived in SUVs and trucks — some of them borrowed or rented — filled with an array of gently-used furniture.
Three dozen volunteers, including eight teens who are part of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Chapter of the Lion’s Heart, a national teen service organization, assisted in unloading, cleaning, and breaking down the furnishings. At the end of the five-day drive, more than 350 pieces of furniture filled the lower level of the church, including sofas, tables, chairs, bed frames, dressers and lamps — enough to furnish apartments for ten refugee families.
Now what? Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services (IRIS), located in New Haven, CT takes over. IRIS is one of the approximately 350 refugee resettlement agencies across the US, and they will furnish apartments, and provide a myriad of other supports and services, to resettling refugee families arriving from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, the Congo, and Eritrea. Founded in 1982, IRIS has welcomed over 5,000 refugees since its inception, and anticipates resettling 420 refugees this year, up from about 250 in 2015.