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Richmond Beach UCC members resettle 10

Richmond Beach Congregational UCC reports that members’ donations of time, materials and money are responsible for the successful resettlement of a 10-member Afghan family.

Afghan refugee twins celebrate their second birthday.  Photos courtesy of Richmond Beach UCC

The church set up a “Circle of Welcome,” partnering with the nearby St. Luke’s Catholic and First Lutheran churches to co-sponsor an Afghan family through Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW).

The previous year, St. Luke’s and First Lutheran had resettled a family from a small village.

The goal has been to assist with housing, job search, education and cultural orientation, so the family will move to self-sufficiency in their first year. LCSNW provides volunteer training and support as well as case management and translation services. 

The family of 10—two parents, four boys and four girls from ages two to 19—is from the northeast province of Badakhashan. The father served for 15 years as security guard at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

After a hurried exit from Afghanistan, they spent two months in Germany, three months at a military camp in New Jersey and a month at an AirBnB in Seattle,” Donna Leggett, co-coordinator in Richmond Beach Congregational UCC in Shoreline with Martha Clay.

“Thanks be to God that through their perseverance and our commitment they are able to settle in their new home and all of us will gain new experiences,” Donna said.

It takes about a year of working with a family to help them find jobs, adjust to school, help with homework and adapt to the new language and culture.

“We expect to resettle another family in the coming year,” said Donna.

They are responsible for raising funds and recruiting people to be involved. Last year for the first, they just raised funds—$3,000. This year, members are involved as well.

“We had expected the family would be in permanent housing by now, but that wasn’t happening until March 28, when they moved into an apartment complex where the previous family lives. It’s close to a mosque,” said Peggy.

“I tutored the 16-year-old daughter, teaching her English and she taught me Dari, a language that has a different alphabet and reads right to left rather than left to right,” she said.

The father of the eight children ranging from age two (twins) to 19, had worked in Kabul for 15 years as a security guard at the U.S. embassy. 

“Much has changed since last year for our church,” said Donna, a member for 25 years who moved to Seattle 50 years ago.

After nearly two years of observing COVID restrictions and the accompanying seclusion, the church’s desire to be directly engaged with a family grew. 

The church also welcomed Jill Bierwirth as interim pastor, and worship services are now both streamed and in person.

Donna, who worked 10 years as an activity coordinator in a retirement community, as a bus driver, sandwich shop owner and actress over the years, said that the resettlement activity grew out of the church’s outreach committee.

That committee also does food drives for the local food bank, provides diapers and wipes for the Healthy Start program with low income mothers and has sponsored with five other churches a homeless encampment, Camp United We Stand, which moves locations every six months.

The church had hoped to use property it had for Housing Hope, but community opposition led them to sell the property to a developer who has built four homes.

For information, call 425-361-6499 or email


Pacific NW Conference United Church News - © April 2022


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