WEST MICHIGAN — The Kent County Gateways for Growth Welcome Plan Steering Committee is giving residents, businesses, organizations and funders opportunities to support the hundreds of Afghan refugees who will be arriving in West Michigan.
Opportunities will address essential needs like housing, supportive services, mental health care and volunteers to help them adjust to life in the United States, according to a news release Friday.
The steering committee – comprised of representatives from Kent County, Grand Rapids, Samaritas, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce – worked with local partners to compile a list of prioritized needs and ways the broader community can contribute.
Housing is the most immediate need.
An Afghan Housing Resource survey was created to capture housing resources people can offer, such as access to a rental property or extra rooms in their homes.
Local agencies also need help meeting the social, emotional, educational, economic and immediate needs of the refugees.
An initial list of agencies includes:
- Bethany Christian Services
- Bhutanese Community of Michigan
- Noor’s Heaven of West Michigan Services
- The Refugee Education Center
- Treetops Collective
- West Michigan Asian American Association
Mental health practitioners are invited to complete the Mental Health Provider survey to learn how they can support immigrants’ and refugees’ wellness.
“Creating a welcoming community takes all of us coming together in support of our neighbors, whether it’s our long-time residents or individuals who just arrived,” representatives from the Kent County Gateways for Growth Welcome Plan Steering Committee said in a statement. “We are encouraging our community to join together to ensure these families have the resources and support they need to resettle in West Michigan.”
Residents can visit the Kent County Gateways for Growth websiteor follow its Facebook page to stay up-to-date on ways to support local Afghan refugees.