By Dr. Joseph Chuman
Fourteen years ago, our Bergen Ethical Culture Society created a new non-profit organization, now called the Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition for Political Asylum Seekers. As many of you know, the mission of the Sanctuary Coalition is to assist political asylum seekers who are fleeing war and political persecution and end up in our area. All come with no resources, many have been detained in depressing detention centers, and many are survivors of torture. What they do have is an extraordinary fund of resilience and a desire to make it in a new land.
Here is where our work is pivotal. We provide these worthy individuals with medical services, transportation, food, clothing, companionship—and most difficult of all—housing. We provide the housing by finding good people who have spare bedrooms and who are eager to welcome these most deserving strangers.
I am proud to say that through the years about a half-dozen members of the Bergen Society have so opened their homes to such asylum seekers and have provided, thereby, life-saving help to people who could not be more worthy. But with one exception, our members have not hosted a client recently.
As you well know, the world is in the midst of a refugee crisis. And so here is my plea: If you have the space and the interest to help, please consider opening your home to one of our clients, and we will put you on the list. Those who have done so have found the rewards for themselves to be as great as for those who have been the beneficiaries of our assistance.
If this work inspires your interest, please contact me.
Joseph Chuman is leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.