Category Archives: Needs

We Raise $5,000 or Get Nothing!

The Guardian Group has accepted a challenge to raise $5,000 by July 4th on the Unitarian Universalist crowdsourcing site, Faithify.

We need the money to continue to help LGBT refugees and asylum seekers settle in the San Francisco Bay Area.  When they first arrive we  buy our clients things like MUNI passes, cell service, and clothes for job interviews until they find a job and start supporting themselves. Refugees get $500/month for 8 months, but that does not cover their basic needs in high cost San Francisco

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work for six months, they get no government support, and cannot get routine medical care, unless they are San Francisco residents.

So the Guardian Group steps in and provides some basics when we can. Things like a bicycle helmet, emergency food money, and maybe a night at a hostel when a client’s boyfriend kicks him out without warning.

Recently we have been spending on average $4,500 for the client’s first year — that amount is more for asylum seekers and less for refugees.

We need help from beyond our mid-sized congregation if we are going to be able to continue to help newly arrived LGBT people in need.

To qualify for Faithify we have to agree that we either reach our goal, or our donors get their money back. So, it’s $5,000 or nothing!

Please help us help newcomers!  Click and Give on Faithify!

Thanks, Sisters

Pete and a Sister showing the donation check

Pete receives a big check from a Sister


The First Unitarian Universalist Society’s social justice volunteers who help LGBT refugees and asylum seekers settle in San Francisco were honored to receive a $1,000 check from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on Easter Sunday.

Thank you, Sisters.

Give to the Guardian Group on National Give OUT Day

Give Out Day Logo on Rainbow BackgroundThe Guardian Group is looking for financial help to continue its work of supporting San Francisco area LGBTI refugees, asylum seekers, and asylees. This year we are participating in the Horizon Foundation’s Give OUT Day on April 20th.

Here’s the link to click with your credit card in hard on April 20th!

Give OUT Day is the national day of giving for the LGBTQ community – a 24-hour online fundraising event that unites the LGBTQ community from all areas of the United States to raise money for non-profits.

Throughout the day-long event, thousands of people make gifts to support a vast array of LGBTQ nonprofits across the country, ranging from the arts to social services agencies, advocacy groups to sports leagues, community centers to health care nonprofits. The Refugee Guardian Group is one of the charities that are participating in this event.

Of course we will happily accept donations any time. But, if you’re considering helping the cause of queer newcomers, consider acting on your generous impulses on the 20th!

We really need your help to continue our work in the community.

Here’s the link to click with your credit card in hard on April 20th!

Mentors: The Key to Helping Newcomers

The key to helping refugees and asylum seekers settle in the Bay Area is the newcomers’ relationship with the volunteer Guardian Group mentors assigned to them.  Every client is given two mentors who lead the response to the client’s needs.

A Client's Gift to the Guardian GroupIdeally mentors meet refugees at the airport when they arrive and stay close to them their first days in the country, taking them to Social Security, introducing them to MUNI, helping them shop for basics, explaining recycling rules and other weird local customs, and accompanying them to their many introductory appointments with the health care system, social services, and other outlets of the helping bureaucracy.

Mentors for asylum seekers provide similar support, emphasizing services available to those who aren’t eligible for US government benefits, walking their clients through the steps to claim Healthy San Francisco care, obtain a checking account, and explore available free English-language classes.

The relationship between the client and his/her mentors can become strong.  LGBTI new arrivals have no local family and no local ethnic community to rely on.  So, mentors go beyond the technical task of decoding local social norms and become an important social contact.  They are the person the new arrival can eat a meal with, call when they are confused or lonely, or ask embarrassing questions of. Often mentors are trusted enough to hear some of the stories, fears, and flashbacks of the refugee/asylum seeker.

Birthday CakeMentors make sure that their clients are invited to Christmas dinner, attend the Gay Pride parade, and celebrate their birthdays.  Mentors show their friends how to find and apply for a job, and they are supportive when their client sends in 25 applications and doesn’t receive a single rejection response.

Mentors are a stable, non-judgmental, non-anxious presence in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.  They are a safe person for the refugee or asylum seeker to express frustration at.  Clients can get angry at their mentors when they are really feeling powerless and disorientated. Mentors don’t react to misdirected anger and remain committed to their client’s well being.

Mentors plan for future housing, job training, and schooling. They see if the Guardian Group should step in an provide Clipper cards and cell phones for a few months.  They are available for discussions on dating and safe sex, and they warn newcomers about America’s fixation with illegal recreational drugs whose possession would mean unstoppable expulsion from the country.

Being a mentor is intense, unpredictable, and important.

Galen Workman, Apex and Zenith

Galen Workman, a mentor, with two assistant mentors, Apex and Zenith

The Guardian Group is now recruiting volunteer mentors so we can help more refugees and asylum seekers.  Please contact Galen Workman (415.647.8830), our volunteer coordinator, to talk more about mentoring.  Ask him about his experiences!

Requirements for mentors

  • Mentors are asked to commit to a 9-month relationship with their assigned client.
  • Mentors need to be available to accompany their clients to appointments, or just hang out with them, at least 10 hours a week when the client first arrives in San Francisco.
  • Mentors need to be available for some weekday daytime appointments – or to arrange others to accompany the client to mid-day meetings with institutions.
  • People willing to be mentors agree to attend mentor training sessions before being assigned a client.

What Mentors Are NOT Expected to Do:

  • Provide cash or items with their own personal money
  • Cancel out-of-area travel plans or be available 24 x7. Each client is assigned two mentors so the schedule of needs can be shared.