Community Connection

Refugee Resettlement is a Public and Private Partnership!

Community Assistance Teams, formerly known as co-sponsorship groups, partner with Bridge Refugee Services to supplement the work that Case Managers do with each refugee individual or family. The Case Manager works closely with the Community Assistance Team to ensure that all needs are met. The Volunteer Manager at Bridge is responsible for training each group and providing ongoing support and communication throughout the partnership. You are not on your own!

What is a Community Assistance Team?

They are faith and community partners who walk alongside resettled refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution in their home country. Community Assistance Teams are typically made up of more than 7 individuals already part of an established social group or organization, faith-based or otherwise, and they serve refugees as they adjust to a new home and a new life in the United States. These partners commit to support refugees as they seek to lead self-sufficient lives, contribute, and integrate into their new communities. Here’s how:

1. Contact Peter Green in Knoxville at | 865.540.1311 ext. 113 or Nathan Walker in Chattanooga at | 423.713.9477.

2. Read through the Community Assistance Welcome Packet

3. Have a Group Orientation /Training and complete background checks.

4. Fill out a Faith/Community Commitment form choosing at least three of the following activities:

  • Stock the pantry: Purchase culturally appropriate groceries for the family.
  • Welcome Home: Help set up and furnish an apartment for an arriving refugee individual or family.
  • Welcome Meal: Prepare a culturally appropriate meal, ready for the individual or family to enjoy immediately up on arrival at their new home.
  • Arrival: Pick up the individual or family from the airport and welcome them to their new home and community. You can make signs and even learn how to say “Welcome!” in their language.
  • Health: Accompany the individual or family to medical appointments and assist as an advocate for the individual or family’s healthcare access.
  • Transportation Assistance: In partnership with local agency staff and case managers, arrange for transportation of individual or family in situations where public transportation is not practical.
  • Financial Assistance: Make a financial contribution to the local agency to assist in paying for housing, utilities, unexpected emergencies, etc.
  • Seasonal Clothing: Provide seasonal clothing and footwear for work, school, and everyday use for each member of the family.
  • Conversation: Focus on developing English skills with the individual or family. A good way to do this is through in-home tutoring twice a week. Bridge will connect you to the Center for English and Assimilation who will provide training and resources.
  • Financial Education: Reinforce the training case managers provide and assist in facilitating financial education for the family.
  • Community Guide: Use your creativity to help the refugee family to learn more about their new community. Teach them how to ride the bus and navigate the area on their own, as well as how to access the public library system and other community resources.
  • Job Development: Assist the Case Managers with employment preparation in order to work towards self sufficiency. Locate potential job opportunities, and mentors for refugees.

Being a Community Assistant is an empowering experience. The Welcoming community is enriched by the giving spirit and the joy it brings; the refugee families you empower are then able to share their gifts, talents, and impactful narratives with the community. This circle of giving is embodied in the refugee resettlement process.

If you are interested in learning more about the Community Assistance program and how to put together a team, please read through this Welcome Packet and contact us.

Check out our Resources page to learn more about learning opportunities and how your organization can support refugee resettlement efforts.