One week before the second family was due to arrive, volunteers stepped up in a big way to make the apartment ready for its new occupants. They organized, made curtains, shopped, donated furniture, clothes, food, kitchen supplies and gift cards, cleaned, put together furniture, hung pictures, picked up and delivered furniture, made beds, decorated and fussed over details. Especially heartwarming was the joy and excitement of our first refugee family who supplied daily tea, biscuits and special treats to volunteers working in the apartment and enthusiastically assisted with moving boxes up the stairs and assembling furniture.
A snafu in the second family’s travel scheduled delayed their arrival by a week, allowing more time for volunteers to put the finishing touches on the apartment. Refugee One supplied three sets of bunk beds and a queen-sized bed for the parents and HPRP supporters provided the rest.
When the big day arrived, a caravan of volunteers met Refugee One staff at the airport and greeted the new family at O’Hare with signs of welcome and plenty of smiles. The family appeared a bit tired, but happy to have arrived in Chicago safe and sound. Although the day was unseasonably warm (the temperature hit 70◦) they were bundled in hats, scarves, winter coats and sweaters apparently ready to face the typically harsh Chicago winter.
Thanks to fundraising efforts of the Laboratory Schools’ Refugee Club, a delicious and culturally appropriate lunch awaited the family when they arrived. The volunteers said their goodbyes and left the family to explore their new home and reunite with their Syrian friends.