The EMM initiative, Connecting Neighbors, was born out of our affiliate partners’ need to supply clients with adequate technology to continue receiving services, pursuing education, and communicating with staff. Connecting Neighbors allows individuals and congregations to fill the gap and directly support refugee families resettled by EMM.
It has been overwhelming to see EMM supporters show up and make donations to those who need it most during this uncertain time. When we receive an email from an affiliate partner who has been connected with a donation, they are full of gratitude and thanksgiving for these offerings.
When a donation recently arrived at Interfaith Refugee Ministry, EMM’s affiliate in New Bern, NC, we were excited to learn the donation had been hand-delivered! Our faithful and compassionate donors drove eight hours to make a much-needed donation.
After receiving an EMM email on April 22, The Rev. Anne Kirchmier, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Newport News, VA, asked Bill Wilds, registrar and liturgical assistant, to follow up about the Connecting Neighbors program. Since the church’s 71-year old day school closed three years ago, they had been in the process of discerning what to do with that part of the building. The vestry had recommended that they institute a Building Implementation Team, on which Bill volunteered to be a member. “As a St. Andrew’s staff member as well, and being here most days, I knew what needed to “go” in order to make classrooms and other space available,” said Bill Wilds. “We combined all of the textbooks, workbooks, computers, laptops, iPads, and numerous other items into two classrooms.”
The original thought was St. Andrew’s could send most, if not all, of the items to the Boys’ Home in Covington, Virginia. They received a positive response from the Boys’ Home but due to space limitation were only able to take half of what they had to offer. The plan was to donate the remaining portion when the pandemic is under control. The Boys’ Home had already relocated most of the middle and high school boys on campus, so when the Governor closed Virginia public schools, their elementary-aged boys came back to campus. With the laptops they had already picked up from St. Andrew’s, they had enough for almost every boy to have one. But, since they hadn’t taken everything on their first trip, St. Andrew’s still had things to offer. St. Andrew’s day school’s remaining iPads were taken to New Bern, along with a donated laptop and some cellphones donated by parishioners.
“I needed a change in scenery, so I volunteered to “drive them” down! I needed someone to keep the conversation going, so I invited my friend Thom Robertson, minister of music/organist at Episcopal Churches in Hampton, Danville, and Alexandria (Virginia) and Amarillo (Texas), to go along,” said Wilds. “Since our mission at St. Andrew’s for the use of the building is for outreach, we didn’t hesitate to support this EMM outreach mission. In this uncertain time, as we around the country have cleaned out closets, drawers, and etc., we hope there are many computers, laptops, iPads, and cellphones that could be donated to the other EMM regional missions.”
Several needs top the list right now:
- Material goods to support refugee families. Items are detailed on affiliate Amazon Wish Lists.
- Digital devices. Most importantly, affiliates need donations of gently-used digital devices – tablets, smartphones, laptops – so they can continue providing services and support to refugee families.
We look forward to hearing from you and helping you direct your donations to affiliates and refugee families in the greatest need of connection and support. Simply fill out this form to let us know what you’re able to donate, and we will be in touch to make arrangements.