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Peace Begins at Home

We love finding new ways to connect the Richmond community with the refugees who live right here among us, and what better crowd than folks and families gathered to promote peace, understanding, welcome, and diversity?

ReEstablish Richmond was honored to be among the vendors at the 13th annual Richmond Peace Festival on Sunday, October 1. The recurring theme of the festival is “Peace Begins at Home.” This year’s event was held at St. Joseph’s Villa, at the corner of Parham and Brook Roads, a welcoming venue with plenty of room to grow.

Under sunny skies and within earshot of the cultural, musical arts happening onstage, our volunteers and staff shared the ReR story of connecting refugees to vital resources in the community in order to promote self-sufficiency. We introduced ourselves to new friends and greeted familiar faces, too. Attendees of all ages were invited to pause and color a peace magnet at our coloring table.

We hope you’ll join us at the Richmond Peace Festival next year – it’s fun, and family-friendly, and FREE! ReEstablish Richmond is already dreaming of ways to introduce our refugee friends to this event in the future.

Thanks so much,

Laura Jones
Refugee Outreach Coordinator

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Reflections of a ReEstablish Richmond Vounteer

Every week, ReEstablish Richmond has an army of volunteers who mentor families, make home visits, provide transportation to classes, and assist with childcare. Tom DeWeerd is one of these volunteers. What follows are his thoughts on why he chooses to devote time to working with ReEstablish Richmond.

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I was told that volunteering would be rewarding... sounds like a cliché, right? Well, I didn’t start out wondering what I could gain but instead asked the question: what can I offer? I attended the ReEstablish Richmond volunteer training and accepted the challenge of lending a hand to someone coming to Richmond from a place about which I knew little.

My first venture, assisting a Bhutanese man to study for the DMV driving test, was an adventure for both of us. I didn’t know where Bhutan was on a map, and I certainly could not have gone there and taken a test in his native language. This 57 year-old man spoke five languages but worked hard to make a living to support his family working part-time in the laundry room of an upscale hotel chain. I was impressed with his energy, positive outlook, and willingness to learn so much about our culture. While he learned, I too discovered much about my values.

Currently mentoring a young man with a growing family from Afghanistan, I find much I can offer about life in the Richmond area that I take for granted. The use of our libraries, basic driving directions, and navigating forms for insurance and government agencies are simple examples. Helping in little ways and making a positive difference for this family immigrating to America is easier than I anticipated. I have entered a new stage of development in life since retiring... and the cliché — yes, predictably — has proven correct: volunteering is rewarding!