Local Nonprofit Receives $200,000 to Help Refugees

2018 Editions Featured Front Page September

Miry’s List, an organization founded by Miry Whitehill of Eagle Rock to help refugees resettle in Southern California, has received a $200,000 grant to expand its work.

The money, in the form of an LA2050 “Connect” grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation, will be a game-changer for the organization – and for the refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants who might not otherwise find the help they need to begin new lives in L.A.

“What we started in Eagle Rock with Miry’s List showed how regular people can have a big, positive impact on the lives of others, by coming together to make a difference,” said Ms. Whitehill. “The grant represents a focusing in on the city where it all began.”

Since its founding in 2016, Miry’s List has been fueled by momentum arising from its success in connecting refugees with the people, goods and services they need to succeed. It catapulted to prominence on sheer innovative energy: Its signature approach was, and remains, to reach out to refugee families and help them compile lists of items they need most, from baby formula and cleaning supplies to clothing and bus passes and more. It then posts the lists on its online forum that people can use to send the requested items directly to the families. The needed items have poured in.

That approach has developed into a three-part action plan that Miry’s List uses to help “new arrivals.” The first part is the “survive” phase, in which Miry’s List identifies and meets the urgent needs that refugees often have upon arrival, including the need to feel safe and the need for basics such as temporary housing, groceries, baby items and cell phones. The “hive” phase, which begins when a family has a permanent home, includes making a wishlist of needed items to set up house and providing English lessons, playdates and job-search help. The “thrive” phase, when refugees feel settled and hopeful, includes ways for refugees to extend the hand of friendship to others, such as “New Arrival Supper Club” events and opportunities to work and volunteer.

The Connect grant will allow Miry’s List to involve as many as 100,000 people in “Welcome, Neighbor,” an effort to make L.A. the most welcoming place in America.

The plan is for Miry’s List to work with the L.A. Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which oversees neighborhood councils. Together, they will ensure that L.A.’s neighborhood councils have dedicated liaisons who focus on refugee needs and resettlement issues in their neighborhoods. Each participating council will then take steps, with the guidance of Miry’s List, to provide tangible support to new arrivals, such as gathering and distributing donated items, hosting dinner parties where guests share the foods, culture and company of new arrivals, and elevating the issues faced by refugees and immigrants in the community. 

As part of the grant application, the Goldhirsh Foundation asked applicants where they hoped their work would lead in five years: Ms. Whitehill’s response: “We hope that L.A. – this diverse city of immigrants – will serve as a model for other cities in our region, our state and throughout the nation that want to stand up, in the best tradition of America, to welcome immigrants and refugees as valuable additions to their communities.”

Hear, hear.

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