Asheville community steps up to help Afghan refugees

Asheville community steps up to help Afghan refugees


ASHEVILLE, N.C. — As hundreds of Afghan refugees arrive in the Tar Heel state, volunteers are stepping up to help them adjust to their new life in America.

 

What You Need To Know

Organizations in North Carolina are working to resettle nearly 1,200 Afghan refugees

Catholic Charities’ western region in Asheville is helping connect about 45 refugees to housing, jobs, transportation and other resources

Marc Capon, co-owner of Harvest Records in Asheville, has raised over $30,000 for Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program

 

Organizations in North Carolina are working to resettle nearly 1,200 refugees who evacuated Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover in August. In Asheville, Catholic Charities’ western region office is helping connect about 45 refugees to housing, jobs and transportation and other resources.

Marc Capon co-owns Harvest Records in Asheville. A few months ago, he contacted Catholic Charities to offer his house to a few refugees for about two months while he stayed with his girlfriend’s family.

“My inconvenience is minuscule compared to how they have had to uproot in their lives,” Capon said.

His involvement with the resettlement process continued to grow from there.

“Having been here for as long as I have and having this retail business … I figured that I could funnel my resources into Catholic Charities and take a little bit off their plate,” Capon said.

Capon started a GoFundMe page for the organization’s Afghan resettlement program. He said he raised tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of weeks.

“It went pretty quickly,” Capon said. “I think the first goal of $20,000 only took a few days.”

So far, Capon’s GoFundMe has raised over $30,000 with donations still coming in. He also uses his store as a drop-off site for donations such as gift cards and laptops.

“Just people in the community that say ‘hey I didn’t know what to do, but I’m glad that I saw that I could bring stuff here,’” Capon said.

Down in the basement of his shop, Capon stores a bunch of donated bikes for refugees who haven’t had the opportunity to get their driver’s license. 

“Having bikes is really important,” Capon said. “So, they can get around, get to work or get to school.”

Capon said he often thinks about what the Afghan refugees have gone through before moving to his community, as they leave their homes and loved ones behind in Afghanistan under Taliban control.

“If you have any sort of level of sympathy or empathy for that kind of situation,” Capon said. “I think it’s important to step up if you can and help out your neighbor, I mean these are your neighbors now.”

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte says its organization has welcomed 38 refugees to Asheville so far with seven more expected to arrive sometime next month.

Noele Aabye is the refugee resettlement case coordinator for the western regional office. She is the first to welcome Afghans when they land at the airport and helps figure out where they’ll stay and what they need to get them on their feet.

Her work includes signing them up for intensive English courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

“Not only do they have access to classroom-style instruction but one-on-one tutoring,” Aabye said. “Which is really invaluable in helping people address exactly what their needs are and getting them on their way to conversational English or full fluency quickly.”

Aabye says housing remains a challenge for them. They’re also still looking for volunteers to help refugees complete employment applications, take them grocery shopping and provide mentoring.

The organization is also hiring another full-time staff member to help with the resettlement process.



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