The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) of Massachusetts has been working with hotel shelters in New England that are providing living space to migrants amidst the surge of people at the border. EDS has provided clothing, hygiene items, and other resources, but during one delivery, EDS got notice of a unique need.
“We took some infant care kits that EDS had done with the New England Patriots Foundation to one of the hotels in Taunton, MA. There, we learned that the hotel was starting a new ESL program for the families,” says Emily Mew, Director of Emergency Disaster Services. “They were partnering with a local community college to offer classes, but they wanted to have some additional resources to supplement the lessons.”
With laptops, anyone in the program could study and review lessons after hours or have access to classes if they couldn’t make it. It would also help families in other ways, such as with communicating with family members, and managing legal visits or doctor’s appointments.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to meet a longer-term need that could make their assimilation easier. We are always there to help during the emergency, but this is for their future,” says Emily.
CITGO had given EDS a grant to help families coming from the southern border, and they agreed that this would be a worthwhile way to spend it. With the grant, eight Google Chromebooks were purchased and gifted to the hotel. Emily says that instead of donating the laptops to individuals, having the hotel itself oversee them allows them to keep track of how they’re used. They can be signed out and returned so multiple families can have access to them.
“This will help literally the hundreds of migrants who stay at the hotel,” says Emily. “I feel fortunate to live in Massachusetts, where we can openly talk about the work we’re doing for these families.”
The community is also aware of the work that The Salvation Army is doing. “We have received calls from residents telling us that they just found out that a hotel near their home is housing migrant families, and they’re asking us for ways they can help too,” says Emily.