Moving furniture and drinking tea

Twin brothers Maxwell and Richard Brooke are United Church of Christ volunteers with an unusual year-long assignment: to experience, blog and film UCC-sponsored volunteer service ministries all across the United States. One of their first stops was the Church World Service refugee resettlement office in Lancaster, Pa.

Richard Brooke and Annie Pollard
Richard Brooke and CWS-Lancaster staff member Annie Poland moving furniture into an apartment for a soon-to-arrive refugee family.
Photo: www.TwinMaps.com

Twin brothers Maxwell and Richard Brooke are United Church of Christ volunteers with an unusual year-long assignment: to experience, blog and film UCC-sponsored volunteer service ministries all across the United States.

One of their first stops was the Church World Service refugee resettlement office in Lancaster, Pa., where the UCC sponsors two other full-time Partners in Service volunteers.

"We expected to be meeting with many individuals behind desks who deal with paper and red tape," the Brooke brothers wrote in their blog at www.twinmaps.com.

They barely saw the office. Instead, they were deployed promptly to the home of recently arrived ethnic Nepali refugees from Bhutan, where a CWS caseworker was talking with the family about everything from health and bills to English classes and jobs.

Maxwell Brooke
Maxwell Brooke sipping Nepali tea with one of the families he and his brother met in Lancaster, Pa.
Photo: www.TwinMaps.com

Next, they helped move furniture and set up an apartment for a second family, scheduled to fly in the next day. Finally, they met and filmed that newly arrived family in an unforgettable encounter, "sitting in a living room in Lancaster, listening to a family of refugees speak in Nepali, teaching young children about camera equipment, and sipping Nepali tea."

Maxwell and Richard came away with a good sense of why refugees flee their homelands, and of the important role of the communities and agencies that welcome them.

Mary Schaller Blaufuss, UCC Executive for Volunteer Ministries, based in Cleveland, Ohio, helped arrange for the Brooke brothers to visit the CWS Lancaster office, which helps more than 300 new refugee arrivals resettle every year.

Nepali refugee family
One of the Nepali ethnic refugee families from Bhutan that the Brooke brothers met in Lancaster, Pa.
Photo: www.TwinMaps.com

"We are hopeful of being able to place more volunteers with refugee resettlement sites," she said. The UCC supports its Partners in Service volunteers with a food stipend, health insurance and program expenses. In 2010, 72 people will have served as Partners in Service volunteers.

Maxwell and Richard Brooke are from China Grove, N.C., where they are members of Mt. Zion United Church of Christ. Their UCC volunteer term is September 2010 through July 2011, during which time they will be visiting approximately 40 volunteer sites.

For more about their visit to Church World Service-Lancaster, read their blog post "How Nepali Tea Brought Us Inner Peace."

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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