From Bare Walls to Welcome Home!
Aug 25 2023
Beginning in 2020, Village to Village began collaborating with CWS to benefit refugee families moving into the Harrisonburg area. “Initially, we worked in other countries. And when we were about two years in, we realized we needed to partner with somebody local… So then I started researching and found Church World Service.” Heidi Dove, the Village to Village director, said.
Village to Village is an integral part of the work that CWS does. After our housing coordinator, Jessica, secures a property for a client, she will coordinate with Village to Village to determine what furniture is needed and when the move-in will take place. Heidi and volunteers then set up the house so that when families arrive at their new home, it’s readily furnished, cleaned, and stocked with various necessities.
Most of the items that furnish the homes are generous donations. “If we didn't have the community alongside us, we couldn't do it. Because they give us 75% of the donations, which are furniture, dishes, towels, linens, soap, shampoo, etc.” Heidi said. Village to Village operates with “a very small budget, because we're a very small nonprofit. So we really count on the community to bring the donations so that the families can get the items that they need” Heidi explained.
The Harrisonburg community comes together in more ways than one to help with move-ins. “Our volunteers are great. Not only does the community donate, we have tons of volunteers that help us actually do the setup. I mean, without that we would not exist, because there's no way we could do it [housing setups] on our own” Heidi said.
The amazing work this organization does stems from a deep rooted value of helping those in need. Heidi said that her motivation began with wanting her kids to become welcoming to those different from them. She started with a goal of “raising my kids, and raising a generation that will love our refugees and welcome them. For me, [I believe] that's kind of what we should be doing. We should be loving to our neighbors, no matter who they are, no matter where they come from.”
Heidi recounted a story when “one family sent us a picture of their family and their new house. And they sent a message through the caseworker that they hope that they can impact the community the way we did. It lets me know that they really are getting settled into the community, and they want to do the same things that we're doing, and it was a blessing” Heidi said.
CWS Harrisonburg is incredibly grateful to Heidi, the Village to Village team, and the community volunteers who help prepare these homes for our new neighbors. Thank you all for your dedicated work!