EventsNext meeting TBA
For Immediate Release
November 14, 2018
Contacts: David Sullivan – (908) 441-6170
Marie Pfeifer – (201) 910-4250
PO Box 1544, Morristown, NJ 07960
Refugee Assistance Morris Partners Welcomes Third Family
The approaching Thanksgiving holiday reminds us of what we are thankful for. Refugee Assistance Morris Partners (RAMP), a volunteer organization, is grateful that over the past two years it has had the resources to save the lives of eleven Middle Eastern refugees, and also a new baby, who is expected in November.
“We are inspired by the stories of these brave people escaping from war zones to lives of safety in the United States, and it is heart-warming to see them apply their immigrant energy to build solid, productive lives in their new country,” said Gerry Gannon, RAMP convener.
On September 27, RAMP welcomed a new family from Afghanistan. The fresh arrivals are husband and wife who are expecting a child in late November. Many RAMP volunteers helped spruce up the family’s new apartment with furniture, household items and clothing. The newcomers have already bonded with RAMP’s second family, the Muniris, also from Afghanistan.
When a new family arrives, they meet with Church World Service in Jersey City to learn about their rights, employment opportunities and budgeting. RAMP volunteers are now helping out with health and social services and English language tutoring for the Afghan wife, who is a college graduate. The husband arrived fluent in English.
RAMP’s first family, the Tarakjis, who arrived in 2016, have self-sufficiency in sight. Beginning in November, they will assume responsibility for their rent and most of their utilities.
The Muniris have moved into self-sufficiency. The father has a good job, and has passed a boiler operator-licensing test.
RAMP extends its gratitude to its volunteers and the faith institutions who support its mission: Brookside Community Church/United Church of Christ, Church of Latter Day Saints, Morristown; Church of the Messiah, Chester; Grace Episcopal Church, Madison; Holy Family Church, Florham Park; Islamic Center of Basking Ridge, Islamic Center of Morris County, Islamic Center of Rockway, Interfaith Women of Rockaway, Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, The Presbyterian Church, Madison; The Presbyterian Church, Morristown; St. Matthew the Apostle, Randolph; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Morris Plains; St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown; St. Vincent Martyr Church, Madison; Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station; Friends Meeting House, Randolph; Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community, and Voice of the Faithful NJ.
Although refugee intake has slowed, RAMP continues to assist vetted Middle Eastern and other refugee families transition to productive lives of dignity, safety and hope in the Morris County area. To learn more about RAMP or to volunteer or donate, please visit RAMP’s website at www.rampnj.org.
October 23, 2018
Arrival of the Third Family from Afghanistan
We met the third family, husband and wife, at Newark Airport on Thursday, September 27. They were a delight to meet. Since they are expecting their first child in late November, Ann Griswold, the health advisor for the family, had brief conversation with them to assure that she was feeling well and the baby was doing fine. They were.
Since their apartment was not yet available we brought them to Joan Belz home, who hosted them for about a week. There we met our 2nd family, who were preparing their first meal. It was nice to see the two Afghan couples bond immediately. The husband’s English is excellent, but the wife’s is very limited so the two Afghan women were able to have a long conversation and I was glad that may have helped her feel more welcomed.
On Wednesday, October 3 we were able to move them into their apartment. They seemed pleased with it and I want to thank the many volunteers who helped get everything ready. Mary Aktay had prepared a welcoming meal that was waiting in the refrigerator, and only needed to be warmed up. The community seems to be a good location. There are many shops and services within walking distance and they do seem to enjoy long walks.
While they have been settling in to their new environment, our social and health service teams have been busy with them. We are still waiting for their social security and green cards to arrive, but the application was begun in Afghanistan. We are expecting them to be mailed to Church World Services and then delivered to the family. Applications for TANF, SNAP and Medicaid have been started, although they are not eligible for TANF until they are a family with children. That eligibility begins 30 days prior to the baby’s birth. There have also been two prenatal visits. The general health screenings that CWS schedules will be later this month. And we have begun ESL tutoring.
So far all has been going fairly well. One need is to line up drivers for when they need to go to St. Clare’s hospital in Denville for the baby's delivery. We would like particularly drivers who live in the Boonton, Denville area. If you can volunteer for this, please let me know. I will email a driving grid where volunteers can select the days/ time slots when they would be able to drive the family on short notice.
Family Services Coordinator
973-627-0651 (home) or 973-978-3794 (cell)
September 18, 2018
Third Family Arrives September 27!
Dear Members, Friends and Donors,
Wonderful news from RAMP! You will be happy to learn that on September 27th our third family will be arriving at Newark Airport after a long and difficult trip from Afghanistan. The family consists of a young couple with a baby on the way in November.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of excitement and activity going on at RAMP in preparation for our new family. It was only at the beginning of last week that we were told of their expected arrival, giving us about two weeks to prepare. We were extremely fortunate to locate an apartment in Boonton on Friday through a contact made at the Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton. Unfortunately, there will be a delay between the day they arrive and the day that the apartment will be available. If necessary, we will have to put them up in a local motel.
Now, all the hard work begins! During the next two weeks we are going to start the task of preparing for the family. In order to do that, we will need the efforts of many volunteers in the following areas:
Locate furnishings for the apartment
Have physically strong people to assist in moving the furniture
Locate someone who could provide a small truck to move the furniture
Locate available space to store the furniture for up to two weeks
Prepare the apartment with curtains, amenities etc.
Locate clothing, bedding, towels etc.
Stock the pantry with necessary items.
Assist the family in adjusting to their new home and neighborhood
Prepare an appropriately ethnic dinner for their arrival to their new home.
We hope that you will all help in this effort. This is the time when we all can be personally involved in a hands-on way to help a family.
If you can assist in any of the areas listed above, please contact:
TOM GRAHAM, Family Coordinator
(973) 672-0651 or (973) 978-3704
Gerry Gannon, Coordinator
August 21, 2018
Dear RAMP members,
I hope you are enjoying your summer in spite of all the rain. I am delighted to report abundant sunshine in the lives of our two families.
The Tarakjis have received their green cards! This puts them on a five-year path to citizenship, should they so choose. And daughter Lona received the “kindness” camper award from the Boonton Recreation Department summer camp. Thanks to all of you who helped the Tarakjis live here safely and securely.
The Muniri family is also doing well. Dad Akhtar is now driving his own used car to work, thanks to generous donors, such as the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth and the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge. Akhtar is in need of a short-term tutor to help him prepare for a job-related test that would lead to a promotion. If you can help out two to three times a week for a month, let me know.
What’s next? Several of us met with Church World Service (CWS) in August to discuss sponsoring a third family. As you must know from news reports, the number of immigrants being allowed in the country has greatly diminished. CWS expects to get about 60 individuals to be placed over the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
The earliest we will welcome a family is late September, but most likely it won’t be until October. CWS expects we could get a family from Eritrea (on the east coast of Africa near Ethiopia) or Pakistan. The CWS representative asked us to consider what nationality and religious groups we think we could best support. The RAMP steering committee will be meeting after Labor Day to discuss this. If you have thoughts, please feel free to be in touch with me.
When the new family does arrive, it will again be all hands on deck to prepare to welcome them. I know you will again step up to this challenge. Fortunately, we do have a team ready to support this third family; it is being led by Tom Graham.
You are truly doing God’s work by supporting these families. Please know that they send boundless love and thanks for all you have done. Stand by for our new friends who will be arriving soon!
August 7, 2018
The Tarakji Family receives their Green Cards. Read more: mailchi.mp
July 9, 2018:
‘No them, only us’: Morristown celebrates its first Diversity Day
Adnan Tarakji, a Syrian immigrant, performing the Mevlevi (Whirling Dervish) Dance at Diversity Day 2018 in Morristown.
Photo by Carly Cannavina.
June 15, 2018:
Dear RAMP Members and Friends,
I would like to bring you up-to-date on RAMP’S plan for sponsoring a third refugee family. The plan was decided at the June 7th membership meeting.
As you may recall, we had decided to wait until we were in a position to accept a third family. That meant that we had to have a member who could act as a Family Coordinator, responsible to guide the new family through the process of beginning their new life in America.
One of our RAMP members, Tom Graham, a member of the Dover-Randolph Friends Meeting, stepped forward and agreed to serve as the Coordinator for our third family. Tom has had experience, having been a member of the support team that welcomed our second family, Akhtar and Nargis Muniri.
However, in addition to requiring a Family Coordinator, we also knew that we needed two individuals, or organizations (churches, mosques, synagogues or temples) who would take the responsibility to act as coordinator in the areas of (1) Health Care Services as well as (2) Social Services.
Presently we are seeking two volunteers who could fill these spots. The basic responsibilities for both would be to connect the family members to health care services and social service. For the Health Care Coordinator, this usually involves arranging medical and dental appointments for each of the family members, arranging transportation, and in the beginning, accompanying them to and from their appointments.
The responsibility of the Social Services Coordinator is arranging for appointments with various agencies that the family is required to visit. This includes arranging for them to obtain social security, temporary assistance, motor vehicle ID’s and, where applicable, green cards. As in the case of the Health Care Coordinator, the Social Services Coordinator will also be responsible for arranging transportation as well as accompanying them to their social services appointments.
For anyone interested in volunteering for one of these coordinator jobs, please contact Tom Graham, at (973) 627-0651 or email him here: Tom Graham, email@example.com
I can assure anyone or any group who is willing to take on this responsibility that they will have the full support needed from those who have been through this process with our first two families.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Gerry Gannon, RAMP Coordinator
April 25, 2018 – Spring 2018 Update on our Families (Word Doc)
December 12, 2017 – End Of 2017 Updates (PDF)
July 31, 2017 – RAMP Family Update - Summer 2017 (PDF)
June 10, 2017 – RAMP Family Update - Spring 2017 (PDF)
April 1, 2017 – Refugee Assistance Morris Partners (RAMP) celebrates the arrival of the Tarakji family from Syria to Morris County
A video of Mr. Tarakji's Mevlevi (Whirling Dervish) dance performance can be found here
March 16, 2017 – Hearing the Cry of the Poor: Catholics join faith communities in Morris County to resettle Syrian refugee family
March 6, 2017 – Statement from Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP) of Scotch Plains and Fanwood, NJ, on the March Executive Order (Word file)
February 1, 2017 – RAMP update on our Syrian family
The family continues to settle in and adjust to life in their new home. Two of the children, ages 6 and 8, are enrolled in school. The 18-year- old son has a job in a pizza parlor. The father, who has a construction background, has had some temporary jobs and is seeking something more permanent. The mother, who has worked as a hairdresser, may seek a job in that field or in something else. A most urgent need is to find employment for the father. Anyone with job leads should contact RAMP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAMP volunteers have been busy helping the family with social services, medical needs, and education. The entire family has been undergoing intensive English as a Second Language instruction. There is an urgent and continuing need for more drivers, tutors and translators. Since the family does not drive, a RAMP volunteer must take them to all of their appointments. Translators also are needed on a regular basis for all their interactions with social service agencies, doctors, dentists, etc. Volunteers in these areas may contact RAMP at email@example.com on the website at www.rampnj.org.
Finally, a dinner is planned for April 1 at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship to meet and honor the family. More details will be forthcoming.
January 31, 2017 – Statement from RAMP on presidential executive order on refugees
RAMP stands strongly against the president's Executive Order limiting or banning entry of vetted refugees into the United States. Our organization will continue to be supportive of the courageous and inspirational family we welcomed to our country last November. In anticipation of better days ahead, RAMP will continue to advocate for refugee families, raise funds to support them, train our volunteers to help them, and be there to welcome them when they arrive at their safe new home in New Jersey. RAMP members will stay hopeful and strong.
January, 2017 – Syrian refugees settle into their new home (long) (PDF)
January, 2017 – Syrian refugees settle into their new home (short) (PDF)
November 24, 2016 – News Article on First Thanksgiving for Syrian family in Morris
October 31, 2016 – Refugee Assistance Morris Partners ready to sponsor one or more refugee families (PDF)