STILL KICKIN HERO OCTOBER 2016
EVERY MONTH, OUR PROCEEDS SUPPORT A NEW PERSON OR ORGANIZATION WHO DEFINES WHAT IT MEANS TO BE STILL KICKIN.
THIS MONTH, WE WANT TO HELP MORE THAN ONE PERSON.
Most of us will probably never experience the level of fear that drives people to risk their lives, leave their homes and flee across the world. That's the kind of stuff that happens in books and movies... not in real life, right?
Unfortunately, for millions of folks (yes, really: this is happening to millions of totally normal and good people just like us), it's very real and unimaginably terrifying.
If you've turned on a TV or checked your social media feeds in a hot second, you've likely heard about the ongoing refugee crisis. And if you're a decent human being (which we're guessing you are, since you're on this website!) you've probably thought, "So, this is pretty damn awful. How can I, a relatively average human being with very minimal power, help these people?"
One way is by supporting groups like Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay, our Still Kickin Hero for October.
Located in California, JFCS East Bay will this year help resettle about 150 refugees from places like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the former Soviet Union and Syria as part of the U.S.'s refugee resettlement program. JFCS East Bay is also one of the lead organizations in the U.S. resettling LGBT refugees from the Middle East and Africa. The majority of the folks JFCS East Bay currently resettles are Afghans who aided the U.S. military after 9/11 -- and who now have a huge price on their heads.
(No, that last bit wasn't just us being dramatic. One refugee told Kathryn Winogura, the org's volunteer services manager, that a person can make thousands of dollars for killing any Afghan who has collaborated with the U.S. "It's a very present and grave danger," she says. Understatement of the century, we say.)
Sales and donations for the month of October will go to JFCS East Bay's "Refugees Welcome Fund," which helps these incoming families get back on their feet by helping with things like housing, tutoring, job hunting and, of course, by providing very-much-needed psychological support.
"They've grown up with 30 years of war, so all they really know IS war," Kathryn says.
“They’ve grown up with 30 years of war, so all they really know IS war.”
- KATHRYN WINOGURA
These funds will help people like the "T" family, who recently came here from Afghanistan. Mr. T. worked with the U.S. military as a translator and participated in missions against the Taliban. After the war, his life -- and the lives of his wife and children -- were seriously threatened. Now, they finally feel safe.
Makes our problems seem kinda small, amiright?
Kathryn often cites a poem that begins with the line, "No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark." Yet somehow, despite experiencing stuff we can't even imagine in, like, our very worst nightmares, the refugees she encounters are always positive and hopeful.
"Sometimes nervous volunteers will say to me, 'What am I going to say when I first meet that client?' And I tell them, 'They are cheerful, happy, smiling people. Yes, they're hurting inside. But you have to remember they're good, warm, amazing human beings at the same time.'"
“Sometimes nervous volunteers will say to me, ‘What am I going to say when I first meet that client?’ And I tell them, ‘They are cheerful, happy, smiling people. Yes, they’re hurting inside. But you have to remember they’re good, warm, amazing human beings at the same time.’”
- KATHRYN WINOGURA
And these human beings in particular could use one hell of a leg up.
To learn more, visit www.jfcs-eastbay.org.
Written by Jordan K. Turgeon