“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.