RAP volunteers work year-round to support newly arrived refugees establish an independent life in their new home. There are ups and downs, quiet times and frantic periods, but it’s all immensely worthwhile.
That being said, this summer has been especially busy and gratifying. From the first face-to-face celebration in almost three years to a college send-off that had us all bursting with pride, the Summer of 2022 was a special one! Scroll or click on the links below to see what we were up to:
Summer got off to a fabulous start when Mary and Charlie Baumann (RAP volunteers extraordinaire) welcomed 115 clients and fellow volunteers to their backyard for an afternoon of fun and food.
Joining 13 newcomer families at the picnic were four alumni families - clients who had successfully reached self-sufficiency and independence after working with RAP. Representing Afghanistan, Congo, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Guatemala and Honduras, our families were happy to reconnect with friends while meeting some in person for the first time.
Check out our photo gallery of the fun event.
RAP Helps Send Two Teens to Outward Bound
What a great opportunity for two great teens! Working with our frequent partner organization, One World, One Love, we’re sending two young people to Outward Bound’s Leadership Program for an immersive two-week experience at the Delaware Water Gap. While they are hiking mountain trails and navigating twisting streams, they will be learning valuable leadership/team building skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.
RAP is providing all of the clothing, swimming gear, footwear, backpacks, sunglasses, etc for our two campers. Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to purchase the same high quality items that more advantaged kids have.
Meet our Future Leaders
Judith, a rising senior, is from the Congo and arrived in NJ four months ago. She lives in Essex County with her parents and four siblings.
A bright student, with hopes of becoming a doctor, Judith is on the college tour now, checking out options here in NJ and Washington, DC. She’s also an accomplished poet and was recently featured at a poetry reading at Rutgers.
Sathiskaran is a rising junior from Sri Lanka and has lived in Union County for one year with his parents and three siblings.
He loves math and problem-solving, which should serve him well in the program’s leadership exercises.
Just some of the clothing, supplies, etc that our teens will bring to camp.
Adventure awaits, indeed, for our happy campers!
Sathiskaran decked out in some of his new gear.
August saw the kick-off of our four-month toiletry drive for recently arrived refugees and forcibly displaced persons fleeing violence and persecution. We’re partnering with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to reach 600 families by the end of the drive in November.
We’re collecting basic personal hygiene essentials to help sustain the dignity and wellness of these families as they work to build a new life here in NJ. (You can help by visiting our Amazon Wish List.)
Our first distribution day at the IRC offices in Elizabeth was a great success, with 130 families receiving bags filled with much-needed items for kids and adults. (IRC did not allow us to take any photos during the day to protect the privacy of the participants).
Meet Confidence N: Notre Dame Class of 2026
We’ve known Confidence since soon after her arrival in the US in 2018. Born in Rwanda, her family fled to Uganda when she was two and remained there for 12 years. Thankfully, she learned English in Uganda which made her transition to Irvington High School easier.
Confidence made the best of her high school experience. She joined the Junior ROTC program and several clubs, including Robotics where she was the President. She excelled academically, taking four AP classes her senior year.
Notre Dame was quite impressed with Confidence and flew her and her sister Comfort out to see their campus and speak with admission counselors on all the opportunities available to her at this prestigious college. Confidence was “sold” and accepted their generous offer.
In addition to the the award she received from the college, Confidence needed to secure a Federal Aid loan and will be working while attending school (along with being a member of the Fighting Irish marching band!)
On August 16, RAP volunteers Charlie and Mary Baumann piled Confidence and her mom, Aisha, into their Subaru and took off for the 13-hour drive to South Bend, Indiana. Once there, thanks to the generosity of RAP donors, they shopped for all the necessities of dorm life.
Two days later, the Baumann’s received this message from Confidence:
Dear RAP members,
I hope this email finds you all in good health. I am writing to thank you all so much for your contributions towards my college move in to Notre Dame. I am overwhelmed and beyond grateful for what you have done for me and I will make the best of it to make you all proud. Thank you all so much again!
On the epic journey to South Bend
You can't have too many storage bins!
Proud freshman arrives at Notre Dame
With her Mom in her new dorm room
A Well-Equipped Start to School
The sometime stressful and always expensive start of the school year was made a little easier for 33 families and 84 kids, thanks to our partners and a generous grant from the Hello Neighbor Network/Schultz Family Foundation. ICNA Relief and One World One Love provided the students with new backpacks and school supplies, while we gave the families $75 per child for school clothing and shoes.
Working together, we delivered the backpacks to each home, covering 6 counties with 10 volunteer drivers!
Backpacks loaded and ready for their new owners.
Each family received a note in their native language.