How do support specialists help welcome new neighbors?

The Refugee Services of Texas (RST) Dallas office Support Specialists share their role in welcoming our new neighbors to the office and their new communities.

Everyone at Refugee Services of Texas has a role to play in welcoming refugees, and for some that role is more readily apparent than others. The RST Support Specialists might be the first point of contact for people calling or coming into RST Service Centers, but their work in welcoming refugees goes far beyond simply greeting clients as they arrive for appointments. Support Specialists play a vital role in ensuring that refugees not only have access to services but also feel comfortable as clients of RST.

Ana and Chris, the Support Specialists in the Dallas office, both began working with RST first as volunteers. Ana applied for a position in RST after serving as a youth volunteer in order to better understand “the world of refugees." Chris was volunteering at various places around the city, such as food banks and homeless shelters, when he learned about RST online. One day while he was volunteering, Chris sat and talked with an Iranian physician for over three hours. This experience inspired Chris to do more to help refugees and he started working for RST; first in a contract position, then as a pre-arrival case manager and now, four years later, as a Support Specialist. 

Both Ana and Chris work hard to gain the trust of RST’s clients and those coming into the office. One important factor is language and cultural awareness. Chris has learned Spanish and some Arabic over the years, and will greet clients and ask how they are in those languages when possible. Ana is a native Spanish speaker, and she is trying to pick up some basic phrases in other languages as well, especially holiday greetings. Familiarity with holidays, greetings, and languages goes a long way towards showing that RST respects our clients' many different cultural backgrounds.

In addition to using language to better welcome refugees, both Ana and Chris maintain a positive attitude when engaging with clients. For example, they call clients by name, ask how they’re doing, and make jokes as the clients come in for their appointments. The best way to be welcoming is “having an open expression, heart and smile,” Ana says, “for a smile is a universal sign of care.” RSTs Support Specialists work hard to make sure clients feel welcome in our Dallas and Fort Worth service centers. You can help welcome our clients too by donating on North Texas Giving Day (9/22/2016)!

This North Texas Giving Day, donations over $25 are multiplied through bonus funds, which means that your gift to Refugee Services of Texas goes even further. Help support the work our employees like Ana and Chris put into making sure that refugees feel welcome when working with our office, a feeling that we hope extends into our clients feeling welcomed and cared for in their new communities!