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Miry's List Helps Los Angeles Welcome Refugees and Asylees

Posted February 7, 2020 by Miry's List

This is an update on the winning proposal from the CONNECT category in the 2018 LA2050 challenge.

View the full January 2020 View the full January 2020 Welcome, Neighbor Snapshot here.

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We believe that a Los Angeles that welcomes refugees and asylees with open arms - in a way that promotes volunteerism and civic participation through the Neighborhood Council system - will be a better, more compassionate, and more engaged place for all Angelenos.

Welcome, Neighbor by Miry's List is making Los Angeles a more welcoming city for refugees by giving Angelenos opportunities to CONNECT with their resettling refugee neighbors. In partnership with LA2050 and EmpowerLA, Welcome, Neighbor gives Angelenos opportunities to make direct and meaningful connections with resettling newcomers in our city.

“Now more than ever it is critical that we help our refugee neighbors make a home right here and Miry's List has been instrumental in this work." — Mayor Eric Garcetti, November 2019

In fiscal year 2019, 30,000 refugees came to America seeking safety from violence and persecution. Southern California was one of the top destinations for resettlement. These resettling individuals and families left behind their extended families, communities, friends, homes, jobs, and possessions. While all refugees come to the US through resettlement agencies, those agencies only work with families for their first 90 days here and are largely understaffed and underfunded, leaving resettling families with many unmet needs.

At the same time, despite the negative national rhetoric, many Americans want to help resettling refugees – especially here in Los Angeles. To harness the support of the local community, we launched Welcome, Neighbor in 2018, a framework for Angelenos to get involved directly to support their resettling neighbors through their local neighborhood council.

Since then, over 20,000 Angelenos have engaged directly with Welcome, Neighbor, and we've reached nearly 80,000 more people through in-person events, social media, and promotional partners. Many city officials have expressed their support. This past December, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution declaring LA as a Welcoming City for refugees. Welcome, Neighbor is uniquely positioned to build on this momentum, activate many more Angelenos and make LA the most welcoming city in the nation.

The 14 piloting neighborhood councils enrolled in Welcome, Neighbor

Pictured: The 14 piloting neighborhood councils enrolled in Welcome, Neighbor.

Nassar Trad, new Angeleno from Syria, and Miry Whitehill at the Los Feliz Food & Art Festival in 2019. Photo by Christina Gandolfo

Pictured: Nassar Trad, new Angeleno from Syria, and Miry Whitehill at the Los Feliz Food & Art Festival in 2019. Photo by Christina Gandolfo

Program Progress

Since Miry's List won the 2018 LA2050 Activation Challenge, we have enrolled 14 neighborhood councils in Welcome, Neighbor and appointed 24 volunteer Welcoming Liaisons leading their neighborhood's efforts towards resettling refugees. Our neighborhood welcoming resolution, declaring neighborhoods a safe, welcoming place for all, has been adopted by 9 neighborhood councils across the city. More than 10,800 people have made direct in-person connections with resettling Angelenos at 64 Welcome, Neighbor events.

Welcome, Neighbor engagements provide interactive opportunities for Angelenos to learn about refugee resettlement in our city, how it feels for families and how we can help. Attendees had the opportunities to meet new arrival families directly, often sharing a meal, conversation, family stories, and getting to know one another as neighbors. Miry's List team members and program recipients have presented at 17 neighborhood council meetings, providing board members and stakeholders with information about and actionable steps for helping resettling Angelenos. Around the holidays, some councils chose to have a direct impact in the form of house-warming gifts: In November 2019 and January 2020, 11 neighborhood councils assisted 11 resettling Angeleno families to help them get the things they need for their first home in LA. Our Los Angeles volunteer list grew by 272 people, many of whom heard about our work through their neighborhood councils, family, and friends.

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How Angelenos Are Impacted

In a survey of 64 Welcome, Neighbor participants, we found:

  • 100% of participants have a greater knowledge the refugee resettlement system in America and how it works.
  • 100% of participants have a greater understanding of how it feels to resettle as a refugee in America.
  • 100% of participants have a greater understanding of how to help families resettling as refugees in Los Angeles
  • 82% of participants responded that they “loved the experience and want more."

The community-driven spirit and structure of the Welcome, Neighbor pilot reflect deeply shared Angeleno values of our diverse city of immigrants. In November 2019, in a video at the 2019 Miry's List Gratitude Gala, Mayor Eric Garcetti described the work of Miry's List as “another reminder that Los Angeles is indeed a City of Angels. And a city where everyone is welcome and all of us belong."

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Coming Next

We are in the Activation phase of Welcome, Neighbor and are continuing our programming for LA Neighborhood Councils throughout 2020. Here's what Welcome, Neighbor will focus on in 2020:

  • Expanded neighborhood council direct family wishlist matching, providing a streamlined process for councils to lead their stakeholders in helping resettling Angelenos get their new homes set up.
  • Targeting 100% council adoption of the Welcome, Neighbor Resolution
  • Participation in Welcoming Activations, facilitated by Miry's List
  • Exceed our goal of activating 100,000 Angelenos with Welcome, Neighbor
  • Data & Reporting: Welcome, Neighbor survey to continue data collection and analysis to establish learnings and findings to understand how we can improve and measure our impact.

Next event: February 14: Afghan Valentines in Downtown LA. Tickets here.