Family Mentorship Program

NOTE (8/28/21): We have received an overwhelming response from those of you looking to join as a relational volunteer. We will be following up soon with details and next steps. Thank you for your support!

The task of resettling in the United States presents numerous challenges for refugees, due to cultural differences and limited government and agency support. They often find that rebuilding their lives in a new country, without speaking the language or knowing anyone, makes daily tasks daunting and overwhelming.

We believe that refugees shouldn’t need to navigate the complexities of the American system alone. Family mentors work as part of a team to befriend a refugee family, by providing regular, on-going support as they resettle in the Portland area. With the goal of enabling and empowering families to be self-sufficient, mentors connect their family to community resources, teaching them how to use public transportation, access the library, shop for groceries, and aid in integrating to life in Portland.

Mentors add to the community that refugees are missing from their home country, offering their time and friendship. As our newest friends press into rebuilding their lives, they’re surrounded with people who care.

Family mentor teams consist of two to four volunteers, depending on the length of time the family has lived in Oregon. This program is open to anyone who currently holds or has previously held refugee status. Volunteers give a one year commitment to a family, meeting weekly, with the hope that lasting friendships are built. Mentors are matched based on geographical location, with the highest need being in outer SE and occasional needs in SW and NE Portland. It can take up to four months to be paired with a family, depending on the frequency of refugee arrivals.

Add-On: In-Home English Language Learning

The In-Home English Language Learning is an add-on to the Family Mentorship Program, which serves to empower English language learners by building their functional vocabulary. The English language learning is geared to non-native speakers who are beginner English speakers or do not speak English yet. Volunteers do not need to be certified English developmental teachers, but will be supplementing the English language classes and vocabulary the client has already learned or is learning; a tool that would be provided is The Oxford Picture Dictionary, which uses basic phrases and words to build a functional vocabulary.

The curriculum is specific and based on the needs of the client (e.g. what phrases to use at the grocery store, how to contact the school to ask for an interpreter for a meeting, etc.). Through one on one relationships, the refugee individual and volunteer work through a written curriculum, meeting weekly in the refugee’s home for one year.

Potential volunteers attend a Volunteer Orientation, fill out an application, and agree to a background check. Fill out our Volunteer Form here.