Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Get Involved: How to Volunteer with Refugees in Memphis

Photo: World Relief Memphis

Did you know that Memphis welcomes a sizeable number of refugees to the city each year?

In fiscal year 2016, 278 refugees were resettled. The majority of those who came this past year were from Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria. Memphis received the most Syrian families of any city in the state. Other refugees have come from countries like Somalia, Eritrea, and Iraq. When refugees come to Memphis, they are often lost, scared, and lonely.

Through various services refugees are given assistance and you can get involved with these opportunities below.

  • World Relief Memphis
    • World Relief has two Tennessee affiliate offices, Nashville and Memphis. World Relief Nashville opened its doors in 1987. In August of 2012, World Relief opened a sub office in Memphis and resettled over 100 refugees. In 2013, it became an independent office and has resettled close to 200 refugees annually in 2014 and 2015. This past year the office grew in numbers resettling 278 individuals.
    • Orientation is the first step for all interested volunteers. Email Volunteer Coordinator, Christi Jenczyk, at cjenczyk@wr.org for more info.
    • World Relief collects items all year round for furnishing homes of newly arrived refugees. You can collect items to form a “Welcome Kit” to welcome refugees. Either assemble kits on your own or purchase kits directly from Amazon. Go here for more info. World Relief also accepts furniture and household items. Call 901-341-0222 for more information.
    • You can make a tax deductible donation online here.
    • Follow WRM on Facebook for updates.
  • Refugee Empowerment Program
    • In 2002, a recently arrived refugee in Memphis spoke out about the exceptional need for educational support in the refugee community, and for the need of increased connectedness between the refugee and American communities. As this refugee struggled to balance the new demands of employment, learning a new language, and acclimating to a new culture, she saw that the struggles of others in her community were nearly identical to her own. Out of this concern grew a collaborative effort to assist those interested in improving the educational welfare and support of refugees. Starting with twelve children and two volunteers, REP has since grown into a staff of three serving a community of over 400 individuals alongside hundreds of volunteers each year. A commitment to provide quality programs led REP to become an operational program of the Memphis Leadership Foundation in October of 2007.
    • Each year, between 200 and 400 refugees, mostly from Africa and Asia, are resettled here in our city.
    • REP serves refugees in many ways. Their three main programs are: afterschool program for PK to 12th grade youth, adult ESL programs, and a Summer Enrichment Program for 3rd grade to 12th grade students.
    • REP offers many different volunteer opportunities depending on interest, availability, and ability.  For more info and to get started you can contact REP staff directly.
    • You can make a tax deductible donation online here.
    • Follow REP on Facebook for updates.
  • Multi-National Ministries
    • Multi-National Ministries is a Christian organization that shows kindness to refugees and immigrants in Memphis by helping them find their way, understand the culture, and achieve academic success.
    • Get more info on volunteering here.
    • You can make a tax deductible donation online here.
  • Catholic Charities of West TN
    • Serving people of all ages and from all walks of life, Catholic Charities of West Tennessee (CCWTN), is the social services arm of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. It is one of the largest nonprofit, multi-social service providers in the Mid-south. For over 40 years, Catholic Charities of West Tennessee has provided services to those most desperate in our community, with special emphasis in the areas of homelessness, children’s programming, immigration services, veteran’s services and emergency services.
    • English language training, cultural adjustment services, employment services, access to health care and schools are all services that are provided by a staff of case managers and interpreters.
    • Find Immigration Outreach Locations here.
    • Get more info on volunteering here.
    • Catholic Charities collects items all year round. Go here for more info.
    • You can make a tax deductible donation online here.
    • Follow CCWTN on Facebook for updates.
  • Asha’s Refuge:
  • Be Free Revolution (Formerly Ekata Designs)
    • Be Free Revolution has merged with The Ekata Collection to teach refugee women in Memphis how to make beautiful jewelry, a small step to helping them become independent in their new life.
    • Shop online here.
    • Follow BFR on Facebook for updates.

Other ways to get involved:

  • Go here to quickly contact your local representatives.
  • Download the Countable App to stay updated on legislature votes in real time and make phone calls to your local reps.
  • Stay updated on what is happening via World Relief here.
  • Contact the TN State Refugee Coordinator: Holly Johnson  at 615-352-9520 x222 for more info or suggestions on getting involved.

For other immigration related issues that you can volunteer your time and resources to, consider reaching out to Latino Memphis.

Do you know of an organization that should be on this list? Email us at contact@choose901.com.