SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. -- On Thursday morning, community organizers said they have launched a new nonprofit to help Afghan refugees begin new lives on the Central Coast: SLO4Home.
Katie Ferber Weschler, SLO4Home Communications Liason, said "our mission is to help those who fled Afghanistan this past summer establish new lives in our community."
SLO4Home was created by local community activists, religious organizations, and veteran and active duty military members who live on the Central Coast, according to Weschler.
The new nonprofit aims to raise $600,000 to help at least 10 families start over in San Luis Obispo County, and the first two families are expected to arrive this spring.
"Imagine being forced to flee your home, your life, with nothing more than you can carry, and having to
start over in an unfamiliar and faraway land," said Vance Rodgers, SLO4Home founding board president. "These are the people and families left behind after working with the United States against the Taliban, and this effort grew out of a deep desire to make the process of rebuilding in a new country a little less daunting."
SLO4Home said donations will be used for transportation, housing support, basic necessities and services to help newly arrived families settle into new homes, jobs and schools.
In addition, the nonprofit said volunteers will also connect refugees with caring supporters to welcome them to the Central Coast and help reduce the stress of navigating the process.
This grassroots effort started late last year, according to Weschler, and the nearly 100 volunteers focused on coordinating for housing, job assistance, education, health, transportation, culture and hospitality.
"Many of us felt helpless as we witnessed the fear and desperation on the ground as our nation ended its mission in Afghanistan last summer,” said Lauren Brown, founding board member. "It's heartening to see so many diverse members of our community — people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, members of the military who served in Afghanistan, and volunteers of all kinds — step up to welcome these families as our neighbors."
To make a donation or learn more, click here to visit the SLO4Home website.