A mother saw a need in her community. Volunteers answered her call to fill that need.
Our founder, Kristen Bloom, attended her first Syrian Supper Club in April 2017 where she learned of the need for English tutors. She listened to the Syrian families speak about their struggles to resettle: the difficulties in finding a job, learning English, and building a community. She felt so much empathy for them.
Kristen said in a recent interview, “On the one hand, I could not imagine all they had been through, but on the other hand I felt like I could relate so well - at least in some ways.” Kristen is a military spouse who has been uprooted and moved nine times in 14 years. “I remembered my time in the Peace Corps when I went to live in a foreign country and had to learn everything new – it was so different from my home country.”
Drawing on her background in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to children and adults, she thought she could help the refugees’ with their English language skills.
She began working with one family and quickly recognized that many other families needed tutors and “they needed a local counterpart, a friend, to help them navigate life here.”
“I was hooked. I don’t speak Arabic, I was also new to Miami, I knew nothing about the refugee resettlement process, but I knew I couldn’t turn my back on them,” said Kristen. “I went back to the organizers of the dinner and told them I wanted to do more. They helped me recruit more volunteers to work with these families, and I volunteered to organize the volunteers.”
She then began the process of formalizing the program and establishing a non-profit to serve the needs of refugee families in the community.
Listen to Kristen talk more about her work and why she believes it is important to connect community volunteers with refugee families.