Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) was founded nearly 100 years ago to serve our most vulnerable neighbors –babies and young mothers; families experiencing homelessness or food insecurity; victims of domestic violence. Today, some of the most vulnerable community members are immigrants – many of whom have escaped traumatic and violent situations. Immigrants are our neighbors, colleagues, our family. Immigrants are us.
Tomorrow is Juneteenth, a celebration of the abolition of slavery in our country, and Saturday marks World Refugee Day. These days honor the rich diversity that make our nation and world beautiful. They are also days to reflect on the ongoing struggle for safety, dignity, and equality that are still denied to so many of us. NVFS pledges to be advocates and allies for immigrants in our community, as part of our commitment to advancing anti-racism in our country.
For nearly half a century, NVFS has developed resources and programs that meet the unique needs of immigrants in our community. Addressing these needs is core to our mission – from responding to the Southeast Asian refugee crisis in the 1970s, the creation of the NVFS Multicultural Center in 2008, to supporting immigrant children and families across all of our programs today. This exemplary work would not be possible without our incredible staff, many of whom are immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants.
The immigrant community faces significant challenges today: the travel bans, family separation at the border, public charge, and most recently the attempts to limit access to asylum particularly for survivors of gender-based and domestic violence. In addition, immigrants are being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic: in Fairfax County alone, which has a 16% Latinx population, 65% of the cases have been in the Latinx community. These and other concurrent economic, health, and racial crises threaten their safety, family stability and overall well-being and increase the vulnerability of our community as a whole.
NVFS staff maintain a high level of support to immigrant communities across many of our program areas, including mental health counseling, youth programming, health access, and immigration legal services. The ability for families in crisis to access our services is needed now more than ever.
The evolving needs of our community today require a deliberate response to complex issues. NVFS commits to using our expertise and influence to:
- Empower. We will continue to engage the immigrant community’s resilience and strength in our services, creating spaces for equity and inclusion.
- Educate. We will engage and partner with organizations to educate our community around issues that impact the wellbeing of immigrant families across Northern Virginia.
- Evaluate. NVFS created a workgroup to develop further actions to respond to the needs of the immigrant community and the impact on our work. These efforts will be rooted in our organization’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion journey.
- Fund. We will continue to actively solicit resources through NVFS’ Immigrant Resiliency Fund to support NVFS programs and staff who serve immigrants. Please consider donating here.
We are grateful for the wonderful community of supporters who stand with us as we stand with our immigrant community. Together, we are making Northern Virginia a vibrant place for all to live, work, and thrive.