LANSING, Mich.-With approximately 1,300 Afghan allies and nationals expected to be resettled in Michigan in the coming months, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the Office of Global Michigan and the Michigan Community Service Commission are calling on Michiganders to volunteer to ease the transition and welcome individuals and families to Michigan. A new online resource - Michigan.gov/AfghanArrivals - has been launched where Michiganders can find volunteer opportunities to support Afghans arriving in the state.
"We urge everyone to join us in welcoming these Afghan families to Michigan and ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed," Gov. Whitmer said. "We will continue to embrace our duty to honor and protect these families as they flee from violence and political persecution. Especially given the recent treatment of Haitians at our border, we also urge humane treatment of all immigrants arriving to the U.S., regardless of their origin."
Global Michigan has worked with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to secure $500,000 of MSHDA funds to temporarily house the arrivals until resettlement agencies can secure their permanent housing. Arriving Afghans are being assigned to one of the state's five resettlement agencies that have the expertise to offer support. The Michigan Community Service Commission is supporting organizations serving Afghan evacuees across the state by identifying volunteer roles and donations to support the transition to Michigan for these individuals and families. The website will play a crucial role in helping coordinate and channel the flow of resources to these important organizations.
"The Office of Global Michigan is working closely with our federal, state, private and philanthropic partners to ensure Afghan individuals and families feel welcome and connected with the resources they need," said Poppy Hernandez, Office of Global Michigan director. "We look forward to working with the Michigan Community Service Commission and supporting organizations serving Afghan evacuees in this effort to identify volunteer roles and donations to ease their transition."
There are opportunities for individuals, families, community teams, nonprofits, and corporate teams to volunteer. Anyone interested in helping should register to become part of the Volunteer Michigan Afghan Resettlement Team. Those who register will complete a simple survey to indicate what skills and donations they'd like to offer, and will receive updates about opportunities to serve within those selected topics.
"We are so appreciative of the many Michiganders who want to volunteer or offer resources for the Michigan Afghan Resettlement initiative," said Michigan Community Service Commission Executive Director Ginna Holmes. "We encourage residents to sign up to serve and support our new neighbors."
The Afghan Arrivals site allows volunteers to share specific resources they can offer for the variety of tasks needed to help support and welcome individuals and families to the state. Michiganders can volunteer in person or remotely and can donate a variety of goods and services, including financial resources.
"Volunteers and donations from our communities will play a critical role in supporting Afghan Nationals arriving in the coming weeks and months. Together, with our state and local partners, we will work hard to ensure those community contributions are put to good use as we provide arriving men, women and children with the essential services and support they need to begin to rebuild their lives here in Michigan," said the five Michigan resettlement agencies, Bethany Christian Services, Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County, Samaritas, St. Vincent Catholic Charities, and United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) - Dearborn, in a joint statement.
Governor Whitmer is focused on making Michigan a more welcoming state. The Office of Global Michigan was established to help grow Michigan's economy by retaining and attracting global talent; and to promote the skills, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit of our immigrant and refugee communities. Consistent with that vision, the office supports immigrant and refugee integration initiatives for the state. It works with state agencies that provide services to immigrants and refugees and strives to minimize or eliminate barriers to accessing those state services. For more information about the Office of Global Michigan, visit: Michigan.gov/OGM.