Over the past few years, members and friends at the First Universalist Church of Yarmouth have offered friendship, support, and advocacy for New Mainers, refugees and asylum-seekers who have resettled in the state.
There are many ways you can get involved. To learn more or participate in any of the following opportunities, please contact the church office.
Yarmouth Compassionate Housing Initiative
Together with two other faith communities in Yarmouth, we’ve come together to offer temporary housing to people who have newly arrived in Maine or who are unable to stay in local shelters. People have opened their homes to families from around the world and many have supported this initiative by cooking meals, providing transportation, offering childcare, or assisting with interpretation or translation.
More professional mentors are needed to befriend and guide New Mainers who are seeking ways to secure employment in their field. There are doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, journalists, and others, from countries around the world, who need your input and support as they look to transfer their skills and education to jobs here in Maine. If you are interested, you will be able to meet together with other mentors, review cultural consideration skills, and then be connected with a New Mainer.
Volunteer Housing Coaches
The church has provided financial support to a new Community Financial Literacy (CFL) program to help immigrant tenants access rental housing. General Assistance provides rent vouchers for asylum seekers until they can get work authorization and become employed, but these newly arrived immigrants must come up with their own security deposits—often $1,000 or more, resulting in many being stuck in shelters for 6 months or more. CFL partners with Infinity Federal Credit Union, which will make interest-free security deposit loans. CFL, in turn, will provide volunteer “housing coaches” to help the borrowers successfully navigate the U.S. rental housing system (thus increasing their chances of recovering their security deposits).
Housing coaches make no financial commitment, and the time commitment would be just a few hours per month once the tenant has been settled into their new apartment. The housing coach might, for example, help the tenant learn to use unfamiliar kitchen appliances or utilities such as heat, and help with occasional questions or issues between the tenant and landlord. The housing coach would have no role in finding the housing and, unless they desire, no role in furnishing or equipping the apartment.