American Friend for a Refugee Elder
Purpose and Impact: Catholic Charities of Tennessee Refugee and Immigration Services provide a wide array of programs to help newly-arrived refugees acquire skills they need to acclimate to American culture and responsibilities. In many cases, refugee elders depend on their children to help provide for them; however, their children often must work to support their children and other family members as well, leaving their elderly parents to fend for themselves. Though senior members of the refugee community have overcome a myriad of obstacles, they are still at risk for poverty, due to changing roles, language difficulties, and loss of their native community. As a part of our Refugee Elders Program, an American Friend partners one-on-one with a refugee senior to reduce our clients' social isolation, to provide much-needed companionship, and to help our refugee elders explore their new community safely.
Tasks and Responsibilities:
•Practice basic English to improve their sense of purpose and place in the community
•Call or visit the elder once a week in order to build a trusting, friendly relationship
•Take him/her on outings to learn about Nashville and American culture
•Help with Citizenship prep
•Plan activities that promote a healthy lifestyle (e.g., trips to the gym and grocery stores)
•Participate in scheduled weekly events organized by Catholic Charities
- Friendly and open-minded
- Patience and flexibility
- Excellent listening and communication
- Sensitivity to senior issues
- Independence and creativity
- Desire to work with other cultures, especially non-English speakers
- Access to transportation (with insurance)
Preferred Skills: Proficient foreign language abilities are always a plus!
Time Commitment: We ask for at least 1 hour a week, with an initial 6 month commitment. The hours are flexible and are determined by the volunteer's schedule.
Site and Supervision: The Elders Program coordinator supervises. Meetings can be hosted in the home of the refugee elder-in or around the Nashville metro area-or wherever the volunteer and refugee choose to go.
Volunteer Benefits: Partnering with a friendly and easy-going refugee elder is an excellent way to both learn about another culture and to see the Nashville community through a new perspective. This is also a unique opportunity to improve your communication skills and to act as an unofficial Nashville ambassador to an inquisitive and vibrant group of people.