Last spring, my temple had a congregational meeting to decide if we wanted to participate in (a) sponsoring a Syrian refugee family and (b) becoming part of the sanctuary movement. We decided "yes" on both.
We got started on the Syrian family business right away, and I was active in both fundraising and getting the family settled. I've been backing away from further involvement, for the maybe-not-very-good reason that the family -- nice people absolutely -- are a yelling family. It's probably because the dad has a significant hearing loss -- he's recently gotten hearing aids -- which I totally understand, since my mom has worn hearing aids for years. But when the family is trying to decide something or get their act together to get out of the house, they all shout at once, and it totally stresses me out. Plus, I had volunteered for a couple of time-restricted things, but then I was letting myself getting sucked into ongoing volunteering work -- driving to medical appointments, English tutoring, etc. -- and I just didn't want to do that. The folks who are the mainstays of the volunteers are all either stay-at-home moms with older kids or are retired, so I figure they've got the time to do this. So I've been extricating myself from further involvement, but I still feel good about the work I did last summer and fall.
The sanctuary movement work, to offer shelter to people who are undocumented or have vulnerable immigration status, also got going right away, but it was a more complicated affair. Ultimately, several congregations in our area joined together to do the work, and a local Episcopal church is the building where people will actually stay. I did the training for that, but then it was a matter of waiting until a family decided to seek sanctuary.
As of two weeks ago, the parish has a family staying there, so tonight I went to the orientation to the parish building. I'd already signed up for two shifts for next week (which is the week that my temple is responsible for volunteers), but then I said I'd help out tomorrow morning for an hour because one of the overnight folks unexpectedly has to leave early.
ICE hasn't yet entered any church building seeking immigrants, but of course we have to be trained about what to do in case they do show up. My stomach was in knots the whole time we were talking about ICE. I'm not really sure I'm cut out to be this kind of volunteer. Do I have the psychological fortitude for it? I don't know that I handle emergencies particularly well. Fortunately, my first shift is only an hour! Next week, I have a four-hour shift and a two-hour shift.