Boonsboro church ready to welcome refugees

April 14, 1997


Staff Writer

A Boonsboro church that is sponsoring a refugee family from Vietnam is putting the finishing touches on preparations for their arrival and has found an interpreter, said the man who is heading up the church's project.

Bruce Smith said the family is scheduled to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport April 28. When the five do, they will have a fully furnished three-bedroom apartment next to Mt. Nebo United Methodist Church on South Main Street to move into, he said.

"That's pretty much what we know," Smith said. "We've been busy getting ready for them."

The only items missing from the apartment are dressers, Smith said. The rest of the furniture was all donated, he added.


The church decided to sponsor the family earlier this year. It set up the venture through Church World Services, which brings refugees to the United States.

The family coming from Vietnam has been persecuted because one of the women had an American father, Smith said.

One of the biggest obstacles will be language since the Vietnamese family speaks no English and nobody associated with the church speaks Vietnamese, Smith said.

But he said a Vietnamese native has volunteered to serve as an interpreter.

Other than the language barrier, the church faces steep financial challenges. At least at first, the family will have no income and church members will have to pay the mortgage and provide for them.

"We're OK for now, but it's $1,000 a month, roughly," Smith said.

Smith said the church has kept up a steady pace of fund-raisers about once a month. The next event, scheduled for May 2, will be a turkey dinner at the church, he said. Tickets for the meal range from $3 for elementary school children to $7 for adults. The family rate is $20, he said.

In June, the church will hold a strawberry festival to raise money, he said.

Smith said church members are excited to meet the family but unsure what to expect. He said they do not want to overwhelm them, but added they will be encouraged to learn English and find jobs.

"We're pretty optimistic," he said. "We're going to have to tackle it head-on."

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