We thank you for your interest in volunteering with RIF and supporting asylum seekers in NYC. Please read through the following guidelines so that you can get a better sense of how to make an impact with your valuable time.

Contact ellie@rifnyc.org and let us know how you'd like to get involved! 

Given our limited capacity to take on volunteers, we encourage you to get involved with our partners at the RDJ Shelter for Refugees-- the only shelter in NYC dedicated specifically to refugees and asylum seekers. 

Things to keep in mind

  • We are a very small grassroots organization and our small team wears many hats. Therefore, we have a somewhat limited capacity to manage volunteer labor and inquiries.

  • Asylum seekers are in survival mode upon arriving to the U.S: many are struggling to find shelter and feed themselves. Their immediate needs are housing, food, legal support, and employment.

  • We do not have storage space for food or clothing donations, so all donations must be delivered on the day of our distribution events. See the calendar for dates.

  • The languages we most often need translation support for are French and Arabic.

  • On top of being in survival mode, asylum seekers are in the early stages of becoming accustomed to our culture. This means that their method and/or style of communicating may be different and it often requires additional time and effort to communicate with them. For example, a single email invitation will often not suffice to invite asylum seekers to an event.


How to make an impact

  • Consult this list of direct actions for helping asylum seekers.

  • Focus your efforts on the immediate needs of asylum seekers. While we welcome creative offers, we must focus our efforts on addressing the most pressing stressors that local refugees face.

  • Take the lead on your offer of support. The more autonomous you can be, the more you will make an impact on our work.

  • Make the time to build relationships with asylum seekers. Try to attend one of our meetings so that we can meet you in person and introduce you to the people who need your help. Having a smiling face to your name makes it easier for us to connect you with clients in the future, and for them to communicate with you directly as needed!

  • Reach out to your community and pool resources. Considering dropping off food for one of our drives? Consider collecting cans at your workplace or school.

  • Connect with local businesses to sponsor food/clothing drives or to host a fundraising event with your network.

  • Keep an open mind and remain flexible. Sometimes the most impactful support comes in a different form that you originally had in mind, or may change as refugees’ needs change.

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