During the holiday season, Refugee Services of Texas aims to highlight and share the stories of some of our amazing volunteers and clients. Jessica Harvey shares how having the opportunity to welcome refugees into her community has been a Bright Blessing.
You can give bright blessings by donating on the RST website. You can also help RST by using the RST Amazon Smile account to purchase holiday gifts this year!
As a volunteer with Refugee Services of Texas, Jessica welcomes families to their new homes, provides transportation, and ensures her community is an open and accepting place to refugees. She has undoubtedly made a positive impact to those she has worked with and has been impacted in return. “I've been welcomed into homes, provided meals, and shown so much hospitality -- I'm supposed to be the 'welcoming committee' - not them! It's been such a joy.”
Jessica's initial inspiration to help refugees came from what she saw and read in the news: “I soon realized I couldn't sit on the sidelines anymore,” she says. “I may not be able to change policies, but I can be a welcoming face to a refugee family and a positive representation of Americans.” In more than six months as a volunteer, Jessica has been struck by “the power and resilience of the human spirit” as well as the kindness of those she works with.
“My all time favorite memory was when I picked a woman up for sewing class and she invited me in her home. She was still getting ready and brought me something every time she went between rooms. It started with a bottle of water, but by the time we left I had a banana, three Milky Ways, and a new perfume. It was so sweet!” Jessica recalls. For her, volunteering is a chance to learn about herself, people with different experiences, and the way we interact with each other. “Volunteering means connecting with other people and recognizing the multitude of resources you have at your fingertips that could help others.“
This holiday season, Jessica counts her time with RST among her Bright Blessings from the past year, and she is already looking forward to the future: “The holidays provide an opportunity to be still and reflect on the year's blessings and challenges, yet also plan for the future and the many adventures to come!” She enthusiastically encourages others to become involved with refugees in their communities too: “I continue to learn a new life lesson after every interaction,” she explains, “I'm so blessed by these volunteer experiences. It will change your life.”