Since 2017 Friendship House’s Good Neighbor Program (formerly called the Refugee Housing Program) has been working to find safe and secure housing for refugee families, while also providing household items, food, and English tutoring. We started out by using a small apartment in our main building to serve 2-3 families each year. In 2021 however, with the crisis in Afghanistan escalating quickly, Friendship House was able to purchase two homes in the neighborhood and begin renovations.
With the addition of those homes, Friendship House now owns four apartment units that we use for housing families who have entered the country through the Refugee Resettlement Program. Through partnerships with another local agency, we have had the privilege of hosting families from places such as Nepal, Africa, Syria and Afghanistan.
As crises like the current one in Afghanistan unfold, hundreds of thousands of refugees will be fleeing violence and persecution. Many of them will be moving into the Roanoke area without much more than the luggage in their hand. The vast majority of refugees do not have housing lined up when they arrive and will struggle to find apartments through conventional means.
To address this, Friendship House actively partners with gospel churches to provide ministries of mercy and empowerment to our new neighbors. Some of our recent initiatives and collaborations with local churches include:
- English Club–Weekly ESL classes for our refugee and immigrant neighbors, English Club is one of the only ESL classes in the region that provides both transportation and childcare for its students. We offer co-ed classes, as well as classes just for women.
- Friendship Soccer Club–Seasonal clinics that are held throughout the year to allow both refugee and local children to come together to learn soccer and make new friends.
- Good Neighbor Teams–Small groups from local churches commit to walk alongside recently-arrived refugees to befriend and support them as they adjust to life in the U.S.