2018 Gift Guide: Interview with Miry by Alyyson Haas
Saul Gonzalez reports: Even as refugee numbers are cut, some believe this creates opportunities for refugee agencies to think more creatively about how to help newcomers to the US. “We want to make it easy and enjoyable for people to get involved to directly help their resettling neighbors,” said Miry Whitehill, a former marketing and advertising executive who founded Miry’s List, a refugee aid group, in 2016.
For the season finale of That Moment, we’re talking about food—our relationship to it, how we find it, and what it provides for us beyond just sustenance. Host Doree Shafrir talks to Miry Whitehill, who started Miry's List, an organization that pairs new arrivals in the US with the resources they need. Miry started the organization after a chance meeting with a Syrian mother. She quickly discovered that food doesn't just bridge cultures—it can help families get back on their feet.
Refugees usually arrive in a new country with little to their names, isolated because their language and customs are different. But some refugees who arrive in Los Angeles benefit from Miry’s List, an organization founded by Miry Whitehill, an Eagle Rock mother of two who knew that her local community could provide direct help to people who are strangers in a new land.
For the past three years, my wife and I have been working with organizations involved with refugee resettlement efforts. We both have immigrant parents, so we’ve heard stories about resettling in a country to make a better life for your children, but being forced to leave a country is very different.
Have you ever wondered how you could help the Refugee families that come to the United States? In this conversation with Miry Whitehill we discuss the three chronological pillars they practice to support each families’ first steps off the plane as they seek a safe haven from violence and persecution.
This is going to make The Office fans so happy. Jenna Fischer designed a Finer Things Club logo for charity, which you can have printed on specific items for really reasonable prices. The sales go to Miry's List, a non-profit organization providing refugee families seeking safe haven in the United States with anything they may need to survive, like diapers, toiletries, groceries, or meals.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” I wondered when I read the March 26 Metro article “American ‘mama bear’ helps refugees,” about a brilliant way to get supplies to refugees who arrive in this country with nothing. Then, as a former Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan, I thought, “Great, but where are our elected leaders?” Good-hearted Americans have always played a role in welcoming refugees in our communities, but they cannot replace the work of U.S. refugee resettlement agencies hit hard by recent Trump administration cutbacks.
Miry Whitehill never set out to start a nonprofit organization . Or a monthly supper club featuring Middle Eastern cuisine, hosted by immigrant families—which is how most people find out about the organization, Miry’s List. The Los Angeles-based former marketing exec and stay-at-home mom got pulled into this whole thing a year and a half ago, when a friend called.
In July 2016, Miry Whitehill was a stay-at-home mom living in Southern California when a friend introduced her to a family of new arrival refugees from Syria—a dad, mom and their twin 5-year-old girls and 5-month-old baby boy. Whitehill’s friend, Suzanne, wanted to find a secondhand Fisher-Price Jumperoo chair (a chair that bounces and spins with toys that keep baby busy), so the tired parents could take a break. New Jumperoos cost between $70 and $130.