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Become a Community Sponsor
Create a Circle of Welcome for a new American family
Community sponsors play a critical role in helping a new American family feel welcome, make connections, and navigate their new neighborhoods, culture, language, schools, and more. If you and your group are interested in making a real difference, and are ready to commit to serving a new American family, then we invite you to create a Circle of Welcome as a community sponsor.
Community Sponsorship Requirements
Across the LIRS network specific requirements for co-sponsor programs vary by local resettlement site, but in general community sponsors are expected to do the following:
Form a Team and Select a Team Leader
Community sponsor teams can vary in size and there is no universal requirement for team sizes. In our network teams tend to range from 6-10 core members who work directly with clients.
Commit to a Specific Time Frame of Service
Program lengths can vary from 3-12 months across the LIRS network.
Raise and Donate Financial Support
Community sponsors are expected to raise a specific amount of money to which will be used to supplement essential needs of the family such as rent, healthcare, transportation, or groceries. LIRS local resettlement sites have set their own financial requirement for sponsor teams based on the cost of living in their area and needs of their clients.
Sign a Commitment Form with Your Local Resettlement Agency
Commitment forms are non-legally binding agreements between a co-sponsor team and a local resettlement agency. The commitment form outlines expectations of community sponsors and duties they agree to perform.
Devote Time Each Week to Assist the Family
The local resettlement agency will give sponsorship teams guidance on how much time they should expect to spend with the family. Community sponsors can expect to be spending more time with the family in their first month after arrival as they learn to navigate their new community than later months.
Receive a Background Check
It is a standard best practice across the refugee resettlement field that all volunteers who work directly with refugees receive a background check. This is a way of safeguarding the clients we serve. Before anyone can volunteer to sponsor a resettled family, the agency will require a background check through their organization.
Complete an Orientation and Training
Community sponsorship teams must attend a community sponsorship training put on by the local resettlement agency where they will learn about the expectations and guidelines of the local agency’s community sponsorship program.
Follow Guidelines from Local Agency Staff
Local resettlement offices will provide community sponsors with information about their program’s expectations, avenues of communication, onboarding process, and guidelines.
Examples of Core Services Community Sponsors May Provide
Home Set Up
Set up an apartment for an arriving refugee individual or family with all of the required furnishings and supplies listed in the home set up list.
Provide seasonal clothing and footwear for work, school, and everyday use for each member of the family, and diapers for infants and toddlers.
Welcome Meal & Stock the Pantry
Prepare a culturally appropriate meal, ready for the individual or family to enjoy immediately upon arrival at their new home.
Airport Pick Up
Pick up the individual or family from the airport and welcome them to their new home. An airport pick up guide will be provided.
24-Hour Home Visit
Within one calendar day of the family’s arrival visit to their home, complete the “Next Calendar Day Home Visit Form” which will be provided to you by the resettlement agency.
Transportation to Job Interviews and Job Training
In partnership with local agency staff, arrange for transportation of individual or family in situations where public transportation is not practical.
Help adults enroll in English Classes within 10 working days of arrival. The resettlement agency will provide guidance on how to complete enrollment.
Selective Service Registration
Register those eligible for selective service within 30 days of arrival.
Enroll all eligible children in school within 30 days of arrival.
Examples of Extra Support Services community sponsors May Provide
Use your creativity to help the refugee family to learn more about their new community. This could look like taking the family to the local farmers market, a sporting event, a local museum, or having
Grocery Store Orientation
Go to the grocery store with the family and teach them how to navigate it.
General Health Orientation
Teach refugees about how to navigate the U.S. healthcare system and assist them in accessing appropriate providers of continued therapy or preventive treatment.
Help the individual or family create a budget, explain the U.S. banking system, etc.
English Language Tutoring
Focus on developing English skills with the individual or family.
Help the individual or family with employment preparation (resume preparation, mock interviews, long term employment goal setting)
Public Transportation Orientation
Show the individual or family how to take the bus, explaining different bus routes, how to purchase a bus pass, etc.
Continued Transportation Assistance
Continue to help with transportation as needed
Frequently Asked Questions
Each of our affiliate offices are following the recommended federal and state requirements for COVID safety. Our top priority is making sure our Afghans and our volunteers are safe and healthy. Additionally, our new neighbors are being vaccinated at military bases as they arrive.
LIRS is working closely with our partners to make sure that all volunteers and potential co-sponsors are connected to their nearest resettlement site. To help us maintain this process, we ask that you fill out our co-sponsorship form.
Written agreements vary by local resettlement site, however, it generally outlines the expectations of what activities volunteers will be doing to support the family versus what the resettlement agency is responsible for and the time commitment expected.
The money that co-sponsors raise is supplemental to the funds given by the U.S. Government. Finances are handled collaboratively between the co-sponsorship group, the local resettlement agency, and the family with the goal of meeting their most pressing needs. Often this does include rent, healthcare, transportation, and school supplies.
Let your faith community discern if community sponsorship is the right journey for them through: EMMAUS: a congregational discernment guide