The Refugee Assistance Partners (RAP), an interfaith coalition in the Westfield area, has helped a number of refugee families resettling in New Jersey, and continues their quick pace in the wake of a rapidly changing political climate for refugees arriving here.

Sponsoring several families and donating to more, RAP volunteers are people from many faith traditions, including Jewish, Christian and Muslim, as well as non-affiliated concerned community members. Their work assists refugees in getting jobs, accessing medical and dental care, going to government agencies with their documentation, finding apartments, donating needed items, financial assistance, and other ways to help transition these families to be contributing in their new community.

RAP member Jill Segulin commented, “We see many parallels between what is happening in the world today with refugees being turned away by many countries, particularly Syrian families, and what we know now was fatally insensitive in turning away Jewish refugees in the 1930s. This strikes a chord with people across many faiths and many different heritages.” 

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Refugees coming today are by definition fleeing for their lives from war, persecution, extreme violence and, in some cases, were victims of torture. Those identified by the United Nations as having refugee status routinely undergo extreme vetting for up to two years before landing on American shores.

The next meeting of RAP will be Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Willow Grove Presbyterian Church, 1961 Raritan Rd. in Scotch Plains. RAP meets on the third Tuesday of each month; all meetings are free and open to the public  There is ample on-site parking and full handicap accessibility. For more information about RAP or to sign up by email for meeting summaries, contact refugeeassistancepartnersnj@gmail.com.