Nashville woman creates Tennessee Resettlement Aid to help Afghan families
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Katie Finn never planned to go from helping save the planet to helping protect people.
The 27-year-old sustainability major was getting her master’s degree in Europe when the Bosnian refugee crisis opened her eyes and her heart.
She became a passionate volunteer, hearing refugees’ stories, and meeting needs like blankets for children walking hundreds of miles and sleeping in the cold.
When the pandemic brought her to Nashville, where it was announced 425 refugees would be arriving from Afghanistan, Katie Finn mobilized her own troops and created the Tennessee Resettlement Aid.
Every Monday night at the Branch Food Bank in Nashville, Finn conducts what looks and sounds like a symphony of service.
She and her band of volunteers collect food, pack car trunks, and deliver in person hundreds of emergency food boxes to the newly settled Afghan families assigned to Nashville. These families were under threat of death by the Taliban for working for the U.S.
“It’s a huge struggle because the government only helps them for so long, and then they are on their own,” Finn said. “So, they have to be self-sufficient in a matter of months. We realized going into their homes. There is a real food insecurity problem in Nashville. And that’s just not acceptable for people who’ve sacrificed so much for us, and for our country, and for our troops.”
Finn said her non-profit is helping fill the gaps.
“Refugees are in crisis mode for at least two years,” Finn added. “Everything is a struggle for them, especially if they don’t know English. So being able to help them pay their rent, or light bill, or school supplies, or buy a new pair of shoes or diapers. I’ve got to be able to do it because nobody else is doing it.”
Finn said being a volunteer takes zero tolerance for suffering.
“When you meet someone face to face, you can’t ignore the humanity that lives within them,” she added. “You will do whatever it takes to make somebody goes to bed better than they woke up. I’ve been so blessed with strong, like-minded people who just can’t sleep at night if people don’t eat. And it’s that fire that you wake up every day and do it again. Because it is a battle.”
Tennessee Resettlement Aid helps provide cell phones, English classes, washers, and dryers and collect rugs for Afghan families. In addition, Finn said they always need jackets, coats, sweatshirts, and new shoes.
With hundreds more refugees expected to arrive, many of whom are former professionals, Finn’s next goal is to find jobs for these new neighbors. If you can help, go to their website here.
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