Story by Michelle McSweeney, Greater Chicago Region, Regional Support Manager
With 2 days and counting, 6 soccer teams, 5 musical performing groups, and 20 volunteers and staff from 15 different partner agencies, gear up for this year’s World Refugee Day (WRD) at Foster Beach, Chicago.
Five months ago in the Ghandi Conference Room at the Heartland Alliance office, the World Refugee Day planning committee held the first meeting of the year to determine the vision for this year’s celebration. Every month following, all refugee agency partners came together to provide updates on their assigned sub-committee and share their resources to support the planning efforts.
While the Chicago Restoring Family Links (RFL) team will still deliver on critical preparedness, RFL education, and tools through the emergency first aid kit distribution session, the 2014 WRD planning also brought new opportunities for the group to engage with our partners.
First Aid “First’s”
This year, we are excited to form a new partnership with Heartland Health Centers. Together, volunteers from both agencies will work together to ensure the safety of the soccer players and event attendees.
The Red Cross volunteered to take the lead on the Social Media outreach to fill this open sub-committee, managing the committee’s Facebook page and distributing ‘Save the Date’ flyers to clients and agency staff. Through the efforts of RFL intern Liz Corrigan, the page ‘likes’ more than doubled, and continue to grow each week. If you have a chance, visit our page and add to the ‘likes’!
Teamwork leaves the office...
Three RFL team members will take to the soccer fields on Friday, June 20th as part of the ‘WRD Planning Committee’ soccer team, sharing in the tournament fun and celebrating together with our refugee and migrant communities. Our first game starts at 11:15am CDT, wish us luck (we may need it..!)
As in past years, this comprehensive planning committee provides all of our partners with an extended forum to better understand each other’s programs, services, and staff that serve our refugee and migrant communities. It is truly a collaborative effort and commitment by all partners, all who are willing to share resources and take on necessary roles and responsibilities to make this celebration possible.
This has been exciting year in particular for our team to support new planning needs, expand the breadth of the services we offer for World Refugee Day, and build our presence in these communities and partner networks. But as our roles vary over the years, our mission through our Restoring Family Links program always remains the same: to honor and serve the truly inspiring refugee and migrant families that build the culture, diversity and the uniqueness our Chicago community.