LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Lee's Summit is working to help welcome Afghanistan refugees headed to Kansas City. The church is also working with immigration attorneys to help provide legal help to families once they arrive.
“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 raised funds to help arriving refugees.
As part of St. Anne's efforts, the church spoke with immigration attorneys, including Rekha Sharma-Crawford. As a result, they were able to raise over $9,000 to get another Afghanistan family 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, the family 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.