When Abir Aljrafi, her husband and their four children escaped from Syria six years ago, the future held a grim outlook.
“I was scared,” Aljrafi recalled. “Our home was bombed by the Assad regime.”
The family fled to Egypt, where they lived until about a year and a half ago when they had the opportunity to reach Los Angeles.
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Enter Miry’s List. The nonprofit started by Miry Whitehill, a mother of two from Eagle Rock, aims to welcome new Americans as they settle into their new lives.
“We’re currently serving over 280 families,” Whitehill said.
Whitehill added that it all started while she was on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council.
“A woman told me about this Syrian family that needed help with the basics and I thought there has to be more families like this,” Whitehill said.
The organization has grown exponentially, adding staff and funderaising events to handle the demand that continues to grow weekly. And as of this month, Miry’s List says it’s set to begin helping with the influx of unaccompanied minors and children separated from their families at the US-Mexico border.
“It’s so sad,” Aljrafi said. “To see those children and wonder where they are going to live.”
Miry’s List prides itself in laying the foundation for families struggling to breathe free. The group helps to secure housing, jobs, clothing, house hold items – whatever it takes to welcome them into their new home and their new life.
“Miry’s List has always taken the approach facts and data do not change peoples minds or hearts or beliefs,” Whitehill said. “What changes people’s hearts and minds is basic human experiences, sitting at a table and enjoying food with a stranger.”
After NBC4 first showcased Miry’s List in April 2017, the group has received much-needed donations to keep the program running. And now they’re teaming up with the city of LA and all 97 neighborhood councils for a new initiative called “Welcome, Neighbors.” But they’re hoping for some help.
Miry’s List is a finalist for the LA2050 Foundation $200,000 grant. You can vote for the non-profit here. Voting closes Friday, June 29, at 5 p.m.