The Caring Circle Program matches Rochester residents with refugees in a partnership of cultural exchange and support. We believe that everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.
While there are social support agencies that provide assistance to refugees, there is often a social gap between refugees and their host country’s population. Caring Circle volunteers engage in activities that promote refugee self-sufficiency and independence.
Caring Circle Program Overview
Together you will engage in activities that promote self-sufficiency and independence. This could include understanding public transportation, food shopping, financial literacy, reading/writing/speaking English, utilizing the library, and more. The Caring Circle Program requires a commitment of at least 10 hours a month for a minimum of 3 months. The exact time and commitment should be decided at the beginning of the partnership and can be re-evaluated over time. Volunteer times for this commitment are flexible and include evenings and weekends.
The work may not be glamorous, and it may be time consuming. New arrivals need help figuring out day-to-day things, like how the Department of Motor Vehicles works and how to open a bank account.
We ask that you commit a minimum of 3 months to your Caring Circle placement because not only does this timeline ensure that you form an adequate emotional bond with your partner, but it also allows for enough time to complete our program model and achieve the goals of empowerment, enrichment, and exchange. We firmly believe that everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.
How Does the Caring Circle Work?
Both volunteers and refugees complete an application. Participants may make specific requests about matching preferences, but an important part of the program is open-mindedness and flexibility. Thus, if requests cannot be fulfilled, participants are asked to be flexible.
Matching is based on hobbies, special interests, etc. that refugees and volunteers have in common based on their application forms. Caring Circle volunteers must be at least 18 years old and can be individuals, couples, or families.
1. Volunteer Application
3. Background check
4. Complete the online course “Welcoming our Newest Neighbors: Learn How to Welcome Refugees” offered by the Refugee Center
5. Initial group meeting scheduled between the community members and the Caring Circle volunteers. Volunteers and community members will have the opportunity to get acquainted with one another, learn more about general goals and priorities, establish expectations for the friendship, and navigate initial language and cultural barriers, often with the help of a translator.
6. Check-in every month
• work • school • doctors’ appointments • zoos and museums • job interviews • swimming lessons • Rochester destinations
• interpreting bills • school enrollment • state testing • advocacy in school settings
• English • American culture • caring for Western-style homes • cooking using Western-style appliances • cleaning using Western-style appliances • American etiquette • healthy eating
• interpreting healthcare paperwork • advocacy • teaching Western healthcare norms
• finding specialists
• attending events in Rochester together • going to a restaurant or cafe • going to the park
• celebrating holidays
– Create lifelong friendships
– Learn about other cultures, including new cuisines and languages
– Become a tour guide in your own city
– Make a positive difference in the lives of refugees
– And more!