Update on our New Neighbors

The Big Red Church, through the Sanctuary Vision Group, has adopted one of the 26 Syrian refugee families here in Fresno. Taiseer and Maisa moved into their new house near Palm and Olive a couple of weeks ago. They have 6 children, aged 18 months to 16 years, from youngest to oldest: Salwa, Muhammad (the only boy), Sana, Sondos, Salsabeel, and Sidra. They come from the large Syrian city of Homos, where Taiseer worked in a factory. 

By “adopting” this family, we agreed to come alongside them, befriend them and help them integrate into our community. That will include visiting, sharing meals, playing with the children, and helping them with some of their material needs.

How can you get involved with and help our family?

  • Be as ESL teacher! Learning English is the top priority.  Sally Vogl is already working with mother Maisa, but since the family is large, they need additional ESL tutors.  
    • No need to be a certified teacher.  Check out this link to get training and help in this way.
    • Contact FIRM (Fresno Interdenominational  Refugee Ministries) if you can volunteer in this way, and tell them you are from Big Red and are volunteering for Taiseer and Maisa’s family. They have materials you can use. 559-487-1500
  • Meet and interact with them.  Because their English is limited, and because we do not want to totally overwhelm them, the best way to make initial contact is with one of the Sanctuary Vision Group members who already know them.   You can read books to the children, bring your children over to play, play ball in the yard, go for a walk, bring over a meal to share (but remember that they do not eat pork). Remember to be sensitive to the fact that they are just beginning to learn English.
    • Cultural awareness: as we meet with and interact with our new neighbors, please be aware and considerate. Check out this page with some tips.
    • Please remember: remove your shoes before entering their home, and men should not shake hands with or hug adult females.
    • Contact one of the vision group members to set up a meeting:
    • Once you meet the family, if they give you their cell phone number, use the WhatsApp app to text them, as that is the easiest way for them to handle texting with translations. You can use that to contact them directly and set up visits.
  • Watch for and join in activities with them.  We went to the zoo with the family this past weekend, and will hold other activities for us to enjoy with them. If you have ideas of things that might be fun, email us.
  • Donate to the “Syrian Refugee Fund” to help us purchase items they need:
    • Download the “Givelify” app on your smart phone or tablet. Search for “First Congregational Church” in Fresno, and save as a “favorite”.  When you click on the church and want to donate, you will have the option of which fund you want to donate to. There is an envelope for “Syrian Refugee Fund”.  Click on that, fill in the amount, your credit card and personal info, and complete the donation.  
    • You can also give a check to the church with “Syrian refugee fund” in the memo line.