Wi-ACT: Plans in place to bring refugee family

Sisters of Notre Dame's campus on Belden Hill Road. – Roger King photo

Sisters of Notre Dame’s campus on Belden Hill Road. – Roger King photo

The Wilton Interfaith Action Committee has resumed its refugee resettlement work after a six-year hiatus, and though the committee does not yet know when or from where its next refugee family will be coming, it knows where it will be staying once it’s here.

That’s thanks to a donation from the School Sisters of Notre Dame’s Wilton chapter. Their campus on Belden Hill Road has a recently vacated building suitable for transitional housing, and the sisters have donated its use to the committee (Wi-ACT) for incoming refugees.

The family, which could be arriving as early as the end of January, will live in the home for six months until sustainable permanent housing can be found, likely in a more urban setting. During that time, Wi-ACT will, together with the nonprofit Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), work with the family, helping it to be fully self-sustaining and independent in the United States.

“If work goes well with the first family, Wi-ACT is open to continuing with other refugee families,” the Wi-ACT Steering Committee said in a letter to its member faith institutions.

The family will likely come from Afghanistan, the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria. Each refugee family that enters the United States is highly vetted by U.S. security authorities for up to two years before it is granted asylum and allowed to relocate, the letter said.

This effort will be separately funded from Wi-ACT’s usual work. Anyone wishing to support the refugee resettlement may mail a contribution to Wi-ACT’s treasurer, Don Weber, at 27 North Valley Road, Ridgefield CT 06877. Checks should be made payable to Temple B’nai Chaim. Write “for Wi-ACT Refugee Resettlement” in the check’s memo line.

“This offer is a tremendous assist to Wi-ACT’s refugee work,” the letter said. “It gives Wi-ACT time to help our family carefully select suitable and sustainable permanent housing.”

Six years ago, Wi-ACT helped transition an Iraqi refugee family that is now living in Stamford and “doing very well,” according to the steering committee.

The Wilton Interfaith Action Committee unites Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations across 10 Wilton-based faith institutions.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are members of an international congregation of religious women founded in Bavaria in 1833. School Sisters of Notre Dame, now living and ministering on five continents, have their Generalate in Rome, Italy.

“Each day we try to find new ways to serve others and to make a difference in the world,” said Sister Virginia Muller, community leader of the sisters’ Wilton chapter.

“We had this empty home, and we wanted to collaborate with refugee resettlement. Our justice and peace coordinators contacted the IRIS, who told Wi-ACT we were exploring ways of assisting refugees.”

According to Muller, the house has three bedrooms and is fully furnished and functional.

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