Welcome Blanket On Call: CALL TO ACTION
Welcome Blanket is a project with many layers.
It is about talking immigration with each other, making a visual statement in art spaces, and gifting warmth and welcome to new immigrants coming to the United States. By asking blanket makers to include notes with their own stories about immigration, migration, and relocation, we are creating a collective narrative that celebrates the diversity of what it means to be American.
Woven into this process is connecting art institutions with refugee resettlement groups and figuring out how to give in a helpful way. Many times, refugee resettlement agencies don’t have the ability to process hundreds of individual gifts, and our deliberate process of collecting, cataloging, packing, confirming, and shipping helps these great organizations prepare and gift these potential heirlooms.
International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of our refugee resettlement partners, reached out to us. We were honored to send 545 blanket/note packages to 12 IRC locations this winter. Now, IRC Phoenix has asked us for a slightly different kind of help: they want 1,000 blankets of welcome to give as soon as possible to incoming recently-released asylum seekers.
Here’s what IRC’s Supply Chain Supervisor Madelynn Paz wrote about the request:
“These blankets provide a warm, handmade welcome to asylum seekers recently released from detention, who have been through so much already on their journey. The knowledge that someone cares enough to send handmade blankets makes a huge impact, especially when many families with children are released at bus stations or churches with few or no belongings. These blankets provide both comfort and warmth to what has been a difficult journey for many.”
Welcome Blanket sees this as an opportunity to proactively, positively and creatively support asylum seekers who are in limbo. Welcome Blanket is heeding our partner’s call to action.
Welcome to Welcome Blanket On Call. While we are in between exhibits, we can still help.
WELCOME BLANKET ON CALL: CALL TO ACTION
What: Welcome Blanket on Call is designed to help our partner IRC to welcome new asylum seekers to the US with the IRC. Welcome Blanket has been specifically focused on refugees resettling in the United States specifically because it is a good way in for all of us to talk about the complexities of immigration while knowing that we know who our refugee neighbors are better than we know each other. We distribute our Welcome Blanket packages through refugee resettlement groups and leave the understanding of how to give and who to give to to them.
With Welcome Blanket On Call, we are responding to a call to action from our partner the IRC who have been working with both refugees and asylees. There is a huge need to help asylum seekers who are trying to find safe harbor in our country, many of whom are released from detention because they have presented a credible reason to be here and are awaiting a hearing to determine their fate. Many of these asylum seekers arrive at the Phoenix bus station with little to nothing.
Why: Because you want to show your support in a personal way. Because seeking asylum is a human right. Because if you were ever faced with having to run for your life, you would hope that someone would treat you with dignity and respect. Because you know you can make a difference and this is one small way to do it.
Who: People seeking asylum in the united states in the time and space between being released because they have a credible reason to seek asylum and being able to plead their case. Families being reunited.
When: Now! We are officially starting the week of March 10 and will continue until we have reached over 1000. This is the time to weave in the ends of your gorgeous work. Later this spring/early summer we will announce our next Welcome Blanket Exhibition. Sign up for our email to keep up to date!
Make a blanket. Share your care. For everyone who loves Welcome Blanket, and is not a crafter, this is a great opportunity to jump in. If you are craft-curious, a no-sew fleece blanket will work well, too! The main idea is to give something from your hands to a new neighbor with love. (Strong preference for machine-washable Welcome Blankets.) We are asking for 40”X40” and the main design guideline is something you would like to receive. Here is the link to our original pattern for the “Come Together Blanket.”
Write a note: In this situation, we know that a minority of those seeking asylum will be granted asylum (only 17% this year), so we want to send love that sets the right tone. They may be temporary neighbors who have fled persecution and are seeking safety, have been incarcerated and are now in a new chapter. Our basic template is in English and Spanish (we know many are more likely to speak Spanish than English, though what you write can be in any language)!
Upload images of your Welcome Blanket and Note. I made a simple survey with an opportunity to share your family’s immigration/migration/relocation story and share any extra images you would like. Full disclosure: I would love to publish these as a book sometime in the future, so if you don’t want your name mentioned, please just tick “anonymous.” I will never publish or share your email or full address (just city, state): it’s only information for me to be able to contact you in the future and know where our community is.
Pic 1: your Welcome Blanket – please try to photograph so that the shape of the image of your welcome blanket looks like a rectangle/square
Pic 2: your note
Pic 3 or more: other images you would like to share
Send your Welcome Package to:
IRC Welcome Blanket c/o Beth Strano,
Ann Ott School/IRC Welcome Center
1801 S. 12th St, Phoenix AZ 85034
Repeat and spread the word! 1000 blankets is a tall order, and the more people involved, the faster we can fulfill this request.
Keep Going! The most common question I get is, “What’s the deadline?” For Welcome Blanket On Call, it’s ongoing. Even if and when IRC Phoenix is set, there will be another group ready to receive. Keep checking our website for the most up-to-date address.
Get involved locally. For those in the Phoenix area, if you would like to be physically involved with Welcome Blanket On Call, please shoot me an email here: Jayna@welcomeblanket.org.