Word from the U.S. Department of State is that more displaced Afghan families who've been awaiting further processing of legal immigration documents are steps closer to arriving in Grand Junction. When they get here, the warm comfort of homemade quilts will be part of the standard furnishings of their new homes in Mesa County, all courtesy of Owl's Nest Quilters.
One Afghan family has arrived and more will continue to come to Mesa County through the Grand Valley Resettlement Program (GVRP) in the coming months. While nailing down specific dates for the arrival of these legal immigrants is challenging, being prepared for them is essential.
"I didn't even think about it," Carol Schneider, owner of Owl's Nest Quilters said when describing her steps in tracking down a GVRP representative. "I knew the families would most likely be coming with little to nothing and this is something that I could do to help. I have watched the news reports about what is going on in Ukraine and I feel so helpless. It is a huge part of my faith to help those in need."
Carol ultimately connected with Dennis Hill who is a GVRP volunteer and coordinator for home furnishings for the incoming refugee families.
"This is such a personal and thoughtful gift to give each of our Afghan families as they arrive in their new homes," Dennis said. "Quilts are equal parts love, function, and the quintessential American gift. It's such a great way to say welcome to your new home!"
At the heart of this community effort is JDA - Joint Development Associates International, a non-profit organization headquartered in Grand Junction. During the last 20 years of U.S. assistance to Afghanistan, JDA worked with Afghanistan locals to fulfill U.S. government contracts for an agriculture development program. Through that work, JDA President/CEO Bob Hedlund got to know the Afghanistan locals well. As the U.S. government made various refugee visas available to Afghanistan people, some Afghan workers of JDA filed for legal immigration to the United States years ago.
"These families have left everything behind, for their lives, to arrive in a country they have supported for years through their work with JDA," Hedlund said.
Mesa County is in a unique position to embrace and welcome these families with open arms. They have left their home country to avoid possible death by the Taliban, to provide education to their daughters, and to rebuild their lives in a new community. They've already proved their commitment and loyalty to our country, Hedlund said.
A practice that has been in play for decades is having churches sponsor legal immigrants, which is what is occurring for the families coming to Mesa County in various phases. The first family, which arrived in February 2022 is being sponsored by Canyonview Vineyard Church.
Theresa Bloom, who is leading the fundraising efforts, says that being involved in this endeavor allows her to put her business skills to use and support a humanitarian effort that is meaningful.
- Dennis Hill, Received quilts on behalf of GVRP, cell (970) 260-8614
- Carol Schneider, Owner, Owl's Nest Quilters, store (970) 241-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bob Hedlund, Joint Development Associates International, Inc., phone (970) 712-5391
- Theresa Bloom, Leading Fundraising, cell (970) 640-9875
- Heather Benjamin, General Media POC, cell (970) 250-2831