Burlington City Arts, of Burlington Vermont, recently curated an event to support the local refugee aid network, Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP). The even was focused around the meaning of the word “home”, and featured art from New Americans who had recently found a home in Burlington. VRRP is one branch of the larger U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and stands for helping those who seek safehaven from trauma and war zones abroad.
The VRRP community has faced challenges since the Trump legislation passed the travel ban, but efforts to bring individuals seeking refuge safely into Vermont have not abated. Many refugees get connected to volunteers, places to live, resources, and kind and loving community members through the VRRP organization.
The evening of art was a positive reminder that despite red tape or bureaucratic policy, individual people remain passionate about, and in tune with, refugee needs.
The umbrella coalition over VRRP, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, has been working for the last 100 years towards helping those in need, including refugees, immigrants, child immigrants without adult guardians, and human trafficking survivors. The Committee is dedicated to a sense of equal responsibility, where one persons burden is equally shared by all around them.
This means that there is no sense of “not my problem” but rather a shared sense of ownership that can better lead to solutions. When we turn a blind eye to those in need, we send the message of dis-owning the problem. Read more: Village Voice Media | Wikipedia
This is not where the answers are found. Organizations such as the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and their Vermont branch, VRRP, assist community members to not turn a blind eye.
Instead VRRP offers many ways for everyone in the Burlington community to get involved with creating change. This is through outreach events such as cooking classes, plays, poetry readings, coat and boot drives, and hosting opportunities.
Many of the VRRP volunteers are refugees who wish to help the people from their home country navigate the transition into American lifestyle. VRRP promotes a sense of connection and acceptance of other cultures. This helps the City of Burlington Vermont integrate the beautiful cultural diversity that results from the refugee programs.
Foundations that are built around helping those who may otherwise be seen as “different’ and marginalized by mass culture serve a vitally important role. Each individual life is important and equal; cultural diversity must be supported and appreciated.
The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, based in Arizona, operates in a way that supports many aspects of cultural diversity. This fund, started by Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin, supports organizations that keep Native American, as well as Mexican traditions, alive and vibrant.
Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey give resources to groups such as the “Cultural Coalition” which promotes the Day of The Dead traditions in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as the Si Se Puede Foundation, which offers the option of folkloric dance to underprivileged students (among other things). Maintaining cultural diversity helps communities by discouraging prejudice and alienation, and encouraging acceptance and inclusion.
Learn more about Jim Larkin: https://www.facebook.com/jimlarkin53