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5 Ways to Help New Americans this Week

Posted on January 2, 2018 by

This message is from Debra Smith, Community Engagement Coordinator at the International Institute of St. Louis.

We expect a family of five on the morning of January 12th, so we will likely have all the preparations for them on the 10th or 11th. And we expect two single men on the morning of the 24th. But by this time next week, we may have a much fuller January calendar. But here’s what I know we need for now:

1. Lobby Greeters

We are trying to staff the second-floor lobby with a volunteer from about 8:45 to 1:15 every morning. The lobby greeter is what it sounds like – a welcoming smile and ‘how are you?’ – as well as a facilitator who finds out what people need, if they have appointments, and connects them with the person they need to see if possible. It probably sounds more intimidating than it is, and Rachel and I are just down the hall if you need us. If you are interested in this work, please email me and we’ll talk about it.

2. Workforce Solutions Assistant

Workforce Solutions has an opening on Mondays for someone to take appointments with clients to practice job interview skills and help fill out applications. If possible, the volunteer would also be willing to comply with our driving-paperwork requirements and be able to take clients to new-hire drug testing. If you have time available on Mondays for several hours between 9:00 and 3:00, give me a call and we’ll talk about the position and arrange for you to meet with the staff of that department to learn more about the training and the work. This position requires a regular commitment for at least several months with only very occasional absences.

3. Baby Box Maker

One of our clients is expecting a baby boy in January, and her caseworker asked if we could put together the items she will need. We have quite a few very nice donations for babies. If someone is especially interested in going through baby clothes and supplies to create a baby shower in a box, let me know. Otherwise, Wednesday morning people, you know what you’ll be doing.

4. Donations Sorting

Through extreme devotion and hard work on the part of a number of you, we’ve reorganized the R&P supply room and the donations rooms to make setups easier and to be more responsive to clients’ needs. Over the holiday span, we have received many wonderful donations from the community that will see us through much of 2018. Before we start getting more frequent refugee arrivals, I’d love to get it all sorted out so it’s easy to take things in and send things out when we’re busier. Wednesday morning has become team donation time, so if you want to join a group of like-minded volunteers to help get the rooms under control and keep them that way, it’s a good time to come. If you can help but need or want to come at a different time, just let me know – the work isn’t complicated and it’s actually rather satisfying.

5. Bed Frame Assembly

We are all out of preassembled IKEA bed frames. If you want to work on transforming boxes of boards into useable beds this week in advance of arrivals, we’d love to see you!


Debra Morris Smith, Community Engagement Coordinator

International Institute of St. Louis

Phone: (314) 773-9090 ext. 182

[email protected]

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