November 17, 2016
A coalition of faith-based religious organizations welcomed a tired but excited family of Syrian refugees at Newark Airport on Nov. 8 and drove them to their new home in a fully-furnished apartment north of Morristown.
This is the first family to arrive in Morris County under the sponsorship of Church World Service (CWS), the relief arm of the National Council of Churches, and Refugee Assistance Morris Partners (RAMP). RAMP was organized last spring and has been hard at work to bring one or more Middle Eastern families to the Morris County area.
“The family had traveled 48 hours by bus, plane and mini-bus to reach their new country,” said Gerard Gannon, convener of RAMP. “When they piled out of the bus at the airport and were greeted by relatives and RAMP members, there was 10 minutes of hugging, laughter and smiles.”
The family consists of mother, father, daughter and two sons, Gannon said. “When they arrived at their new home, they were greeted by a house full of welcoming friends, including RAMP members, as well as well as new neighbors and members of the Islamic Center of Morris County,” he added. The previous weekend, a large group of volunteers had filled the empty apartment with everything needed to make it a home – furniture, appliances, food, bedding, and clothing.
“They are a very loving family and extremely grateful for all those who made it possible for them to begin their new life in America in this beautiful home. As the family moved from room to room, they were floored at what they saw. They sat down and ate a home-cooked meal we prepared for them and enjoyed a birthday cake for one of the boys,” Gannon said. “As we left them, it was clear that they had come so far to escape the horrors of war and violence. They had given up everything but hope.”
RAMP and CWS will co-sponsor the families for approximately six months. After that the families are expected to become self-sufficient.
“Even as our first family settles in to life in America, we are working to prepare for our next guests,” Gannon said. “Our members are showing what is best about America.”
RAMP has members who represent 10 Protestant churches, two Catholic churches, two synagogues, and two mosques located in the area. RAMP welcomes new members who are willing to serve on one of its 10 sub-committees that range from welcoming, to employment assistance, to furniture and clothing. Translators who speak Arabic are also needed.
RAMP operates as a Special Project Fund of the Community Foundation of New Jersey and is now accepting donations. Financial donations should be sent to Treasurer, RAMP, P.O. Box 1544, Morristown, NJ 07960. Checks should be made to the Community Foundation of New Jersey with RAMP indicated in the memo line. All donations are tax deductible. RAMP also accepts in-kind donations, especially of house furnishings and clothing.
Those interested in volunteering for RAMP should contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the website at http://www.rampnj.org, where there is also a link to a Speakers Bureau for information on scheduling a speaker. RAMP is pleased to share its knowledge and experiences with other organizations.