$20

Aiding An Odyssey - Fairfax Stands with Refugees

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Fairfax Community Church

2398 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

Fairfax, CA 94930

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Local Fairfax residents team up to support refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern Countries and Africa stranded in Greece, unable, by law, to continue their journey to safety.

Over 100 local donors organized and participated in several fundraising events to build awareness and encourage donations to support refugee children and their families on health, wellness and education projects. Events this spring included private fundraising parties, auctions, speaking engagements, bake sales and online fundraising campaigns.

Five Fairfax residents traveled to Lesvos Greece this summer to volunteer with and deliver donations to refugee support projects.

The volunteers worked alongside refugees in demanding conditions, including a searing heat wave that reached 122F and civil unrest and police brutality at one of the more prison-like camps resulting in further instability for people living as refugees. Volunteer Eric Leland describes the experience as “the hottest, most demanding and rewarding work I could imagine - and I was only there for a couple of weeks. The refugees live this every day.”

Volunteer Mary Beth Leland, likens her experience last year in Athens to World War 3. She describes her experience here: http://redwoodbark.org/2016/11/02/mary-beth-leland/. This year, on Lesvos, she notes, “There is no shortage of suffering, and no shortage of love and support in the volunteer and refugee communities. But space, resources, and patience on the island are running out and more refugees are still arriving every day.”

The volunteers will be sharing their experiences, answering questions from the community, and discussing ways that the Fairfax Community can offer direct support to refugee families stuck in Greece at the “Aiding an Odyssey - Fairfax Stands with Refugees” event scheduled September 20th from 6:30-8:30PM at Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax. All proceeds will be donated to benefit refugees in Greece as they move towards their goal of finding a safe and welcoming host country. Specific recipient families and organizations will be profiled at the event.

Fairfax Volunteer Bios

Joe Hewlings lives in Fairfax and works as a mechanical building services engineer. He volunteered on Lesvos this summer working with refugees from the Moria camp, and with several community projects, including establishing a women’s center with One Happy Family (https://ohf-lesvos.org/) and a workshop for artists and tradespeople with Home for a Day (https://www.facebook.com/groups/497834953759505/).

Nikki Mortham is an art teacher in Marin. A new transplant to Fairfax from SF, prior volunteer work took her to Ecuador where she worked with students to help replant rainforest. The stories of the refugee crisis brought her to Lesvos where she was able to help build a women's' building at a community center and support an art project for a group of refugees.

Bethany Toy is a school psychologist in Marin. She has worked with marginalized populations throughout Latin America as a social worker and theologian. More recently, she spent two weeks volunteering on behalf of refugees in Greece, which she views as one of the most transformative experiences in her life. Bethany’s passions include Trauma Informed Care, succulents, and humans.

Mary Beth Leland is a special education teacher working with vulnerable children and families in Marin. She spent this summer and last summer working in refugee camps in Greece after being trained in the Trauma Informed Care training model for refugees developed by the Schoolbox Project, and NGO based in Petaluma that trains volunteers on trauma informed care and operates out of converted shipping containers.

Eric Leland is a founding partner of FivePaths.com and lives in Fairfax, working with nonprofits on technology projects. He has worked professionally and volunteers for human rights projects focused on children’s health, documenting war crimes, technology education and more. Eric volunteered this Summer in Lesvos Greece focused on building shade structures to block the high summer heat for people living as refugees.

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Fairfax Community Church

2398 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard

Fairfax, CA 94930

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