Volunteer Spotlight: Emily
As a ministry worker, I have been around many ministries and non-profits over the years. During the pandemic, my family and I have been so consumed with our own needs and comfort while the world around us has shifted. As our appetites for our own comforts grew, we started looking for ways to serve others that weren’t faring as well as we are.
Our hearts have loved volunteering for Voice of Refugees packaging and distributing their weekly food donations. My husband and I are able to volunteer alongside our 3 kids and see them work hard for others. They amaze us each time!
Children have such a natural gift for service when we give them the space to do so. As we package, we pray for these families that have very little voice and rights in this country at this time. My pastor reminded me in the wake of the BLM movement that the people we are serving couldn’t march for their rights if they wanted to. And so we serve and let the people we meet know that we see them and how they desire more for their families. – E.M.
VOR’s Student Summer Camp (SSC) is that special time that VOR kids and youth look forward to every year! This 4-week program is free – a welcome gift for many refugee families who lack the resources to register or transport their kids to paid day programs. For 2020, it’s been particularly hard to plan and prepare for SSC amid the ever-changing COVID situation. One unique barrier for refugee families is that many have only one mobile device to share among all family members. Most families do not own a computer, and some households do not have wifi at home. But God has provided everything we need!
With recent grants and donations (see Executive Director’s Corner), we’ve been able to purchase laptops to loan to families in need, we’ve been able to staff three levels of SSC (K-2, 3-5, and Youth Leadership Corps). With our wonderful teachers Miss Erin, Miss Holly, and Miss Nivine, kids get to experience a creative, fun curriculum four days a week, using materials personally delivered to each family weekly. With local mission teams and volunteers, refugees parents and kids in isolation get to see and receive love from more people! It’s only Day One, and (despite the technological barriers and learning curve) we’ve had 40 kids engaged in the program already! To hear VOR hallways come alive with the laughter and voices of our teachers and children, truly brought a smile to our staff and volunteers on site today!
With the smooth launch of ESL and SSC, we’re also starting to match more volunteers to areas such as ESL Teaching Aides, 1-on-1 Tutoring, 1-on-1 Job Coaching, and 1-on-1 Conversation Partners. We’re also always looking for extra help with food distribution on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Executive Director’s Corner: Updates from Pastor Joe
I hope you and your family members are all healthy and well. If not, please let me know, so staff and I can pray for you. Even though the time we live is very uncertain, incredibly volunteering and donations have increased! Your support has encouraged and blessed families struggling to make ends meet and experiencing food insecurity. Since mid-March, our volunteers and staff have delivered groceries to 283 unique families: a total of 93,687 pounds of food during a total of 2,352 home deliveries. We continue to deliver to an average of 220 families each week. One reason we deliver food is that we get the opportunity to express our care and concern without being rushed. As a result, volunteers and staff have gotten to build relationships with families, pray with many individuals, discovered other needs, and connect them to other resources.
We also began online ESL Classes in June with the help of seven volunteer ESL teachers and aids. Three times a week, this dedicated team teaches 25+ students (split across 3 to 4 levels), all eager to learn more English while being able to connect with their friends. The ability to ‘get out of the home,’ via online classes, truly has lifted the spirits of all who are attending. After Online ESL, we host a ‘news and culture’ time to discuss recent events in the context of God’s words. It has been a great opportunity to help students and for all to remember that God is in control, He loves us, He has a plan, and that we all should daily be placing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and our Savior.
Starting this week, we are launching our Student Summer Camp (SSC), which will be online too due to the resurgence of COVID-19. There are exactly fifty kids, ages 5 to 18, registered as of Monday morning! Just last week, we purchased 50 laptop computers to support families that lack the technology to attend SSC and ESL. These loaner computers will be delivered to the hands of students that need them this week (yes, it has been busy!). We are so thankful that God moved the hearts of so many volunteers and donors this past month to bless so many families!
At the beginning of June, Sa-Rang Church delivered 175 Care Packages to VOR filled with high-value items for our families. The care package was a very appreciated surprise to our families.
On June 17th, VOR was one of nine nonprofits in Anaheim that came together to raise funds to support our various missions. We not only met our original goal of $16,000, but due to the generosity of a total of 65 donors (23 being new givers to VOR), a total of $18,020 was raised! We thank God! On June 25th, we were notified that Anaheim Community Foundation has granted VOR $35,000 to help empower our youth, parents, and those experiencing food insecurity.
To cap the month off, on June 29th, Mariners Church surprised us with a $20,000 gift to support the Summer Student Camp and other VOR outreach activities. I was floored when Pastor Muriu of Mariners told me that an additional $10,000 was on its way to VOR through the personal donations of Mariner’s staff!
We are also so grateful for our regular giving partners that include: BranchesHB Church, First Christian Church of HB, First Baptist Church of Corona, New Spring Christian Center, Refuge Calvary Church, and our over twenty regular givers. I am praying that over the next 12 months, God moves 500 more individuals to give $10, $20, $50 or $500 or $? a month. I am praying that the average gift is $40 a month, which will bring much needed stability to improve planning, expand staff to serve more people better, and to expand our services.
It has been an honor to serve this past month, as I witness love and faith in God being so prominently expressed through so many people’s service and generosity to the many families who are struggling and overwhelmed.
May God Bless and Keep You Safe!
- Praise God for well-attended VOR’s Online ESL Classes! Pray for God to overflow our wonderful ESL teachers with the wisdom and grace they need and for technological barriers to be overcome for the families that want to join but are hindered by unstable Wifi or lack of devices.
- Pray for kids, parents, and teachers involved in the Student Summer Camp! Pray for the teachers’ health, wisdom, stamina, and patience with the blended format. Pray for families to be blessed through this ministry!
- Pray for the health of refugees and their family members around the world, volunteers, staff, partners, and the general public in light of the COVID-19 situation. Pray for protection for families currently in refugee camps who have heightened needs and stress due to reduced NGO presence, resources, and medical care.
- Pray for each food delivery interaction and may God provide divine opportunities to bring His love, healing, and gospel.
- Pray for VOR staff and volunteers. Wisdom, discernment, stamina, and grace to work with refugee families.
- Pray for refugee family members still in their country of origin awaiting approval to join their families in the USA.
- Pray for safety for family members of refugee families still in conflict zones, war zones whom are externally and internally displaced.
July 6 to August 6: Student Summer Camp (3 Age Groups from K-12) Zoom with Personalized Materials Delivered Weekly
- Summer Mission Teams: A Socially Distanced but Culturally Innovative Experience
- Food Distribution: Sorting | M W Th | 10:30 am to 1:30 pm
- Food Distribution: Delivery | M W Th | 12:30pm to 3:30pm
VOR Online Services:
- Student Summer Camp | M Tu W Th| 10:00 am to 11:30 pm, 1:30pm to 3:30pm
- ESL Intro to Level 4 | M Tu W | 11:30pm to 1:00pm
- US Culture, News, and Hot Topics | M Tu W | 1:00pm to 1:30pm
- Job Coaching | By Appointment
- Conversational English, Tutoring, Job Coaching, Social Time | By Appointment
- Friday Night Teen Time | F | 8:00pm to 10:00pm