Neighbor stories

St. Louis Nextdoor Member Rallies 100+ Neighbors to Help Refugee Families

Written by Jen Burke

Over the past three weeks, St. Louis Nextdoor member Jessica Bueler has witnessed the power of community in an incredible way. What started out as a single post asking neighbors to help refugees has turned into something much bigger than she could have imagined.

Seven Syrian refugee families recently moved into Jessica’s community. Thanks to the programs in place at the International Institute in St. Louis, the families were supported for their first three months in the United States. However, Jessica knew that the support from the organization would come to an end – and that there was an inevitable need for people in the community to step up and create an ongoing support system for the families.

Jessica took to Nextdoor to gauge neighbors’ interest and was blown away by the response. Over the past several weeks, more than 100 neighbors have signed on as volunteers to help the families settle into life in the United States.

“We realized we didn’t need an invitation to do the right thing.”
Jessica and her neighbors have worked together to partner four or five American families with each Syrian family. The volunteers visit with the families on a weekly basis, bringing them household items and food, helping to teach them English, and helping them acclimate to their new home.

In addition, the group has organized several great events for the families. Last month, neighbors gathered at a local pizza restaurant to welcome the families to the neighborhood and get to know one another. They also organized an arts and crafts day for the refugee children, where they made picture frames and took photos as a way to commemorate their new memories in St. Louis.

Two weeks ago, Jessica arranged volunteers to organize and drop off more than $1,000 worth of toiletries to the families. Jessica says that they have every intention to keep these events going. In fact, just this past weekend, neighbors volunteered at the House of Goods Baitulmal to help load containers with clothing and blankets for families in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

On top of all of that, the neighborhood is raising $20,000 to help the families.

“The amount of support we’ve received – and new friends we’ve made over the past few weeks – has been just amazing,” says Jessica. “It’s incredible to see so many people coming together who saw a need in the community. We just realized that we didn’t need an invitation to do the right thing.”

To support the refugee families in St. Louis, visit Jessica’s fundraising page.

Join your neighborhood on Nextdoor here.

Do you have a story about how you’ve used Nextdoor in your neighborhood? Let us know.

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