Welcome Note Guidelines

A welcome note is an encouraging reminder to a refugee family that they’re not in this new transition alone.

Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

• We ask that you do not use the word “refugee.” Since refugees are people that are forced to leave their homes, they tend to be defined by what they’re coming out of. Our goal is to help them move forward, from their crisis-centric reality to a thriving new life.

• Express your sentiments and hopes for a refugee family being resettled in Portland, instead of your recommendations for hot spots in the city. The focus upon arrival is on surviving and adapting to a new culture. Refugees are unable to relate to suggestions for trendy restaurants or well-known Portland sites, at least initially.

• If you would like to address the note, do so with “Friends.” Feel free to sign with your name, “One of your neighbors,” or however else you’d like. If your card has an envelope, please leave it unsealed.

• Welcome notes are not an opportunity to have any agenda other than to provide the warmest welcome to a newly arrived family. (For example, notes focused on proselytizing will not be given to families.)

• Kids write some of the best welcome notes. Invite your child to be a part of decorating and/or writing.

• Finally, remember that these are people fleeing some kind of violence or fear of persecution. They’re often filled with hope but are afraid of what awaits, as it is not known. Think of what you would want to be told. Show compassion. Give encouragement. Be hopeful!

“Welcome to Portland! We’re honored to have you here – you make our city better. Would you come to know this new city as home. We’re for you.”