The CWS office in Jersey City is full of hope. Everyone who walks through our doors—or, during this time of pandemic, talks to our staff on the phone or through a video call—is hopeful for the future. They have hope for their children, for their families and for the new, safe life they are building here in New Jersey.
Our Jersey City office opened their doors in 2015, welcoming new arrivals to northern New Jersey. We provide case management and employment services to refugees and asylum seekers so that they can build a foundation of self-sufficiency. We offer programs including health services, job preparation, basic needs support, case management, job placement and legal services.
Earlier this year, we expanded our work to include a temporary shelter for asylees and asylum seekers. We love being able to provide a safe space for people to breathe and figure out their next steps. Sadly, though, most of the people entering the shelter don’t have many personal belongings.
To help our guests feel better and more at home, we called upon the support that generous congregations and groups continue to give to the CWS Blankets and Kits programs. We placed an order for CWS Blankets and Hygiene Kits from our warehouse network. Thanks to these supplies, our shelter beds will be cozier, and our clients will feel clean and refreshed after their long journeys.
“The shelter is our biggest achievement this year but also our biggest challenge so far with the COVID-19 pandemic. With no one expecting it, it is hard to navigate,” says Mohamed Abbas, our Community Resource Developer in Jersey City. “We just opened the shelter in February and we did not expect the COVID-19 pandemic at all. We have clients who are able to look for jobs and start that process, but they can’t because they simply can’t go to work.”
Across the country, refugees are often particularly vulnerable in the face of any crisis, including coronavirus. Many have lost jobs and are struggling to pay rent, afford groceries or cover other basic expenses. Some are ineligible for stimulus checks or government support. “CWS Jersey City is particularly concerned for the newly arrived families who have been employed for less than six months and can’t get their full benefits,” Mohamed explains. “We are working diligently and remotely to support refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in the past couple months and are trying to stabilize in an uncertain world.”
Thanks to the generous supporters of our CWS Kits and Blankets programs, we are welcoming these new arrivals with a tangible reminder that they are not alone and that they are loved.
These are uncertain times for many Americans and our neighbors around the world. We know that this pandemic has closed many places of worship during the season where hundreds of churches would normally be supporting the CWS Blankets and Kits programs. Although things are different this year, we are holding all of our supporters in our hearts until we can safely be together in person again. We hope you know how much your support means, and we will continue to spread the warmth and love that goes into each of the gifts you give.
To support our Coronavirus Response Fund, which includes support for our refugee resettlement offices as well as the CWS Kits and Blankets programs, please visit cwsglobal.org/coronavirus. If you’d like to give directly to our shelter in Jersey City, please visit: teamcws.org/jerseycity/ShelterFor8