Miry's List on a refugee-friendly Los Angeles, affordable housing, what it's like to do meaningful work, and more
August 23, 2023
In 2016, Miry Whitehill learned about a Syrian family in her Eagle Rock neighborhood who, since they had escaped the war and landed in the US three months prior, had been living in a sparsely furnished apartment with almost none of the basic necessities to set up a home—no towels, cleaning supplies or even diapers for their baby.
What began as a call out to Miry’s friend network to meet this family’s needs quickly ramped up to Miry’s List, which crowdsources support for refugee families resettling in the US.
Miry’s List provides:
- education opportunities
- career mentorship
- home learning programs
- access to technology
- home essentials for families through their Wishlists program
In 2022 alone, Miry’s List supported 325 families.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Miry's list about their vision to make LA more refugee-friendly, the importance of non-profits and community involvement, and more. Read on to learn more about their amazing work.
N2N: How do you think nonprofits are important to LA’s future?
It’s important for Angelenos to have direct, hands-on ways to get involved with the issues they are most passionate about. This could be volunteering at their neighborhood school or local neighborhood council, participating in advocacy to spread awareness for key issues and solutions, or giving time and talents to direct service organizations like Miry’s List to show up for our neighbors. Nonprofits are important connectors to the work that makes repair possible for the average person in LA.
N2N: What are your hopes for the future of LA?
I hope that LA will be a role model for other major cities across the country in demonstrating what community-supported welcoming looks like for resettling refugee families. I hope that LA will invest in affordable housing solutions for low-income families.
N2N: What ideas do you have for LA to become more sustainable and community-oriented?
We’re curious about expanding resettlement pathways in Los Angeles for refugees from around the world, especially using the community-based method that has proven successful through Miry’s List since 2016. We’ve noticed a particular need for more specialization and curation of services and support offered to newcomers upon arrival, and we’re looking to deepen our partnerships with other LA organizers and experts in refugee services, including Program for Torture Victims and Pars Equality Center, and organizations supporting self-empowerment for young people, like ProjectQ. Coalition-building with experts with aligned values and a strong social justice vision will lead to better quality of service, more robust options for folks who have sacrificed so much, and ultimately an improved resettlement for individuals, families, and communities.
N2N: Do you have any stories about positive interactions you've recently had with your local community?
Miry’s List has made incredible strides with the support of our volunteer helpers, whom we affectionately refer to as our “hive”. We’ve been particularly impressed with the young people and students who have jumped in to help, giving their time during summer break and afterschool to support new arrival students and their families. One such student, Harry, spent his summer before heading to college to tutor a new arrival student in English. He also led his school community in a supplies drive, collecting toiletries, baby supplies, new clothes, picture dictionaries, cleaning supplies and handwritten welcome letters for newcomer families. These simple acts of kindness go a long way. Not only for the families, but for the volunteer helpers. Although Harry has graduated from his high school, he has left an impression that has inspired many students at his school to follow his lead and continue to support refugee families through Miry’s List. We are so proud to be a conduit for volunteerism and kindness for young people.
N2N: What are some of your favorite parts of working in the nonprofit world?
It’s extremely fulfilling to work in a “helping” job. Each day we wake up, start our day and complete tasks that make a difference to another person. It’s extremely rewarding to work on creating cultural change, making new friends and helping one family at a time. Being a disrupter of an old and broken system is both exhausting and incredibly fulfilling. If you are reading this and you’d like to join us in improving the experience for people resettling in the U.S. as refugees, sign up for our newsletter (2x per month), check out volunteer opportunities at Miryslist.org, and if you can donate, join our monthly Welcomers Circle and help sustain our organization.
How You Can Pitch In
Refer A Business
Let us know about your favorite local business. We’ll donate $10 to Miry's List for each recommendation.
There are many ways to pitch in, with both in-person and remote roles available:
- help sort and distribute supplies to new families in the Welcome Workshop
- create online wish lists based on a family’s needs
- sponsor a family wishlist or purchase welcome gifts online
- work 1:1 with a family as a tutor, resource locator or career mentor
To sign up, visit https://miryslist.org/voluntee...