LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Lee's Summit is making room for refugees from Afghanistan that are on their way to the Kansas City area.
“What terrified me was watching these people clambering on airplanes to get out knowing that if they didn’t help their family through everything, if they didn’t go through all of these different things, they would lose everything,” said Rev. Meg Rhodes, priest at St. Anne's Episcopal Church.
As a mother and wife, this was the moment Rhodes knew she had to follow her faith and help refugees from Afghanistan in more ways than one.
“I have a parishioner who is an immigration attorney, so I reached out to her and I said, 'What does this look like?'" Rhodes said. "And in that process, I reached out to Jewish Vocational Services, and I said, 'What does this look like? How do we do this?' And they said, 'Absolutely, we can do this."
St. Anne's members, leaders and JVS did it. After raising the necessary funds, the church is now working to renovate their office space into a safe place for a family of refugees.
“So what our plan is, is that it will become an apartment that will become a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, and it will house a family of refugees coming from Afghanistan,” Rhodes said.
St. Anne’s work is not done. Not only has the church created a new home for a family of refugees, after speaking with immigration attorneys like Rekha Sharma-Crawford, they also raised over $9,000 to get another of family 16 in Afghanistan safely to Kansas City.
“When someone is trying to file for the benefit of humanitarian parole, and when they file that application, they have to submit filing fees, and the filing fees associated with that process is $575, but it’s per person," Sharma-Crawford said.
However, with the help of The Clinic at Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, this family of 16 and others will have a safe and legal way to take care of one another.
“The clinic which is a non-profit allows us to provide pro-bono representation so that once the families are here if there are legal documents and filing that need to be done, that we can step up to provide these services to make sure that all those documentations are provided and properly filed,” Sharma-Crawford said.
Now with more refugees on the way to Kansas City, Rhodes says this is the start to a ministry the entire community can get behind.
“So it’s not a ministry of Meg and St. Anne's but really a movement of an endless number of people who have come together and said, 'We can do better,'” Rhodes said.