Over the past few weeks, thousands of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine have come to California through the border with Mexico, in response to President Biden’s announcement of support for 100,000 Ukrainians to come to the US as refugees. No other pathway has been announced, so families are flying to Mexico and entering the US with a temporary humanitarian parole status. Dozens of families have already arrived in Fresno, and more are coming every day. It is primarily grandparents, women and children who have been able to flee.
Ukrainians who have fled the war are being given humanitarian parole in order to be allowed to legally enter the US, but there are no federal resources currently available for them. As we wait for guidance and resources from the government, we know that families can’t wait. We also know that it takes a community to welcome a refugee. Fresno’s Slavic community and Slavic churches have been a key part of FIRM since we were founded in 1994. FIRM staff have gone to the border to provide support using their vacation time, and we are supporting the individuals and families who have just arrived to Fresno. We need your help.
Here’s how you can help:
- Gift cards for food and other household supplies (FoodMaxx, WalMart, Visa, Target, etc.)
- Volunteers who speak Ukrainian or Russian to provide transportation and/or translation
- Bicycles, bus tokens and car seats
Gift cards of any denomination can be dropped off or mailed to FIRM and will be distributed to families already in Fresno according to family size. Gift cards are preferred to food, given storage limits. You can also donate to FIRM.
Volunteers who can help provide translation and transportation are greatly needed to help families fill out applications, attend appointments and understand their next steps. To volunteer with FIRM, please email Salim(at)firminc.org.
The primary physical goods that we are asking for at this time are: bicycles for transportation, bus tokens and car seats. Given that many families are doubled and tripled up, space is at a premium until the work authorization or other benefits get approved. Please drop donations of bikes, car seats or bus tokens off at FIRM Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm.
Housing is needed. If you have a spare room or rooms or unit that you would be willing to share for a very low cost, there are many families who are in need. Please fill out this form if you would be willing to share. Background checks will be conducted before connecting anyone with a refugee family.
Lastly, please pray for Ukraine, for a true peace that respects borders, for the families fleeing war, for the families stuck in a warzone without a way to flee, for the healing of all the trauma that has been already experienced, and for clear pathways forward for families hoping to be reunited with loved ones and to find safety. Pray for FIRM’s staff as we seek to help and bring hope, for the Slavic churches offering refuge throughout the world, and for each of our communities to choose to be more welcoming every day.
FIRM is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and so all donations are tax-deductible. Please follow our Facebook, Instagram and check back on our website for further updates as the situation evolves.