Sometimes everything in life just lines up perfectly. Like for many of you, the situation in Syria has been heartbreaking for me to watch/stand by and go along with my day. And the culture of fear and rejection around immigrants from certain parts of the world will not be my personal or our family culture. There are a million ways to help, but often they feel abstract to me (still worth it, but less connection made to people in need). Meanwhile for my job I have to create content for companies, often using major pieces of furniture just for a few days. Yesterday’s post was a great example, and after we shot that (6 weeks ago) it was my first chance to work with Miry of Miry’s List (more below) and donate the furniture to former refugee families in Los Angeles who arrive with nothing and literally sleep and eat on the floor.
This post could be extremely long so I’ll keep it as brief as possible. Miry’s list is a movement of neighbors and friends dedicated to welcoming new arrival refugee families into our communities. Here’s what happens – after living in whatever horrors these kids had to, often in camps and applying to come for 4 years, they arrive and have nothing – literally. No food, money, support, home, cell phones, friends or family. Some speak english, some don’t. Many of them worked as translators for the US military (and had to flee for the safety of their families as they are seen as traitors) and they land here, with nothing. Imagine how terrifying that would be as a parent. Sure, the government has some social services set up, but as you can imagine there is a lot of bureaucracy and not enough support. These families have been in survival mode, literally, for YEARS watching their family members, friends and neighborhoods get destroyed. So while they are happy to be here and be safe, shifting from ‘try to keep your family alive’ mode into ‘be a productive part of a community’ is super hard.
However you feel politically shouldn’t matter – it’s about helping our neighbors, families who are already here, legally, and living next to us with nothing. Which is what Miry did after she met her first family. She wanted to give back and help those neighbors, families and people that really needed it.
So what she did is set up a list of basics and necessities for each family that people, anyone – YOU, can purchase and these items ship directly to her or the family if they have a stable home to ship stuff to. It’s everything from diapers to shoes, to cell phones. It’s crowd sourcing commerce and it’s working. She and her volunteer team also help the families meet others in the community by having these popup supper clubs where people can purchase tickets for a meal, that goes directly to the family and the food/drink is inspired by the country or even made by that family (they’ve only done two but one of the dads was a chef in Afghanistan so he wanted to cook for everyone).
Basics are easier to provide, but obviously larger pieces of furniture and decorative items (pillows! a cute lamp!) are harder to come up with and get donated, so I was super happy to start this relationship where as I’m finish using/staging/shooting some pieces we immediately can deliver them to a family that needs them. From yesterday’s post we gave a family a dining table and chairs, and another family the sofa. I don’t have an endless budget to create these posts so I do try to return what can be returned, but furniture that we’ve put together or destroyed packaging or lamps that we’ve de-tagged can be hard to return so this is the perfect, perfect, perfect way to give it a great second (and permanent) use. In a perfect world I could do makeovers for the family’s homes (and we are doing one right now of a graduate of the homeless shelter I designed a couple years ago). But my bandwidth here is honestly so full and I don’t want to make promises that I can’t keep – I would hate for a family to think they are getting a full makeover, then have it take two years due to our busy schedule. While I’m looking for any volunteer designers (maybe someone just starting out?) in LA that I can oversee (so that we can leverage exposure on the blog to get everything gifted) for now directly donating pieces to families after we finish shooting with them is such an easy way to provide some assistance.
Miry came over recently and our kids played in the the new fort while we chatted about her whole program.
Basically how it works is, you visit their site where she has a page with all the families that are in need. You can scroll through pictures of the families, read their stories, and then click through to see a list of items that each family needs, which you can then order directly through Amazon. You can buy one small item, or you could fulfill the whole list, it really is up to you and every little bit helps so there is no gift from their list that is too small. Once you place the order, the item gets sent directly to the family or to Miry who delivers them to them.
Here are a few of the families in need right now, to give you an idea of all the different needs and situations of each of these families. Each of these stories is pulled from Miry’s website.
Kamil Family: This is an Iraqi refugee family (mother and two teenagers (girl/16, boy/14). The daughter is in high school and speaks English well. They are refugees from Iraq who fled to Turkey first, lived in a refugee camp for 4 years, and were finally able to make it to the U.S. in late 2016. (The father of the family is unable to join his wife and children in the U.S. at this time.) Currently, the family is isolated from others in their situation, as there very few refugee families living in the neighborhood in which they’ve settled. They are currently living in a small one bedroom apartment, and are in need of household basics, like a futon and bedding, as well as shoes, and bicycles to use for transportation. Thank you for any assistance you can provide!
This whole post is less about me, i’m barely doing anything, but more about highlighting people who are taking the wellbeing of our community in their hands and making change, with no profit. It gives you an avenue to help direct individuals and it will also hopefully get some larger sponsors for them so that they can work more efficiently. I know that there are a lot of other programs in different cities, doing something similar or different, so if you guys have any please leave them in the comments so that they get some exposure as well.
Thanks, Miry, for doing what you do and inspiring others to join. Again, you can get all the info you need on her site. xx