Letter From The President: Growing To Meet The Need
April 21, 2023
Dear CVRAN Community,
Our world is changing… literally our world. We all know that because of climatic, economic, and political upheavals, there are mass migrations around the globe. The United States, with our relative economic prosperity and political stability looks to be a haven and people come. They come despite political opposition here, despite walls of barbed wire and drone surveillance, despite danger and hardship and often life-threatening journeys to get here.
These people are desperate for a safe life for themselves and their children. They are desperate for a job, any job, that will help their families back home who are without enough food or medicine. In another era, it might have been your ancestors after the potato famine, during the Holocaust, crossing the border from Quebec to find work. If you read the book, The Most Costly Journey, you will catch some samples of why one of these groups, the migrant farmworkers, has come to Vermont. The farmworkers are willing to give up everything to help their families. Whenever we volunteers meet a new immigrant, no matter their legal status, we feel their urgency and dedication to survival in a new country.
What is fair? Won’t the U.S. be inundated by new people? In the past there have been work exceptions for those who want to come work here for a temporary period. Jamaicans, for instance, used to come to Vermont with temporary papers to help pick apples in the fall. The main focus of CVRAN as an asylum action network, however, is to work with those people who have come here hoping to stay more permanently, and to be eligible to stay they need proof of persecution by their government, torture, or more. This group of asylum seekers and refugees is only a small set of those who come wanting economic refuge, but they still are many, and many more than we can help. CVRAN has been expanding fast to try to meet these needs and welcome asylum seekers and refugees as much as we are able.
At the recent CVRAN annual meeting we watched a Powerpoint showing the changes our organization has made in the last 12 months. In the past year, we graduated 6 guests, and gained 14, netting 8 new neighbors. With the 9 that are carrying over, we now have a current total of 23 guests, as well as many others whom we help in different ways. A year ago, we had only 15 guests. Two years ago, we had only 6. How can an organization grow that fast?
Clearly we also have needed to grow our organizational base at the same time. In the last 18 months, volunteers have grown from 95 to 141. Members have grown from 48 to 65. Many people are pitching in to meet the needs of our new neighbors, and many people have stepped forward to help build the necessary structure to make this happen. For instance, we have a new committee that helps select the next family to help. We have another new committee to raise funds to help people stay in this area for the long term, even though housing is scarce. We have added on an assistant treasurer and a finance committee. We have even hired our first part-time person! We are growing, but the need is big.
Let us know of any possible host families or someone who wants to join a new neighbor team. Let us know if you might want to participate in some way. Visit our website at cvran.org to volunteer or to see what else is going on. You are guaranteed to keep busy, to feel connected, to have an abundance of cross-cultural experiences, including new friends. The work is vital, and it will vitalize you! Most importantly, it will help some other people who are coming a long ways for a new home.
To working together,
Rachel Walker Cogbill