We’re delighted you’ve decided to contribute your energy and talents to CASP’s mission!
Now we need to give you an overview of CASP, the people we serve, and our expectations for our volunteers. After reading this page and before beginning your volunteering, you need to agree to abide by the guidelines described on this page by entering your name at the bottom of the page and pressing the “I AGREE” button.
What CASP Provides
CASP’s mission is to provide basic needs and a supportive community for those in the process of seeking asylum in the U.S.
In order to do this, CASP finds local host homes for those seeking asylum; supports the guests with food, shelter, and other daily needs as they resettle in our community; assists them in navigating the asylum claims process; and helps them achieve eventual independence as they proceed through the asylum process.
The Asylum Process
Asylum seekers in the United States are:
- displaced people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries
- requesting sanctuary individually through the Department of Justice, unlike refugees who are invited and resettled by the U.S. State Department
What happens to asylum seekers after they arrive in the United States?
- They are often detained in locked facilities for an uncertain period. Men and women, mothers and children are usually separated.
- They are given a formal interview to determine if they have a credible fear and therefore a reasonable claim to asylum.
- They may be released if they have relatives or friends somewhere in the U.S. to support them (or an organization such as CASP).
- On release, they will be scheduled for asylum hearings in immigration court.
The process usually takes a few years, resulting in either asylum or deportation.
In our everyday contacts with our asylum-seeking guests, we often enter situations that necessitate understanding our guests and following clear standards of behavior and protocol. Please read the following description of some of the issues you might need to deal with as a volunteer working with asylum seekers, including trauma, safety, and acculturation. Following that is a section regarding volunteer conduct and our policies on driving, background checks, reimbursement, and sexual harassment and abuse.
Trauma and Safety
We believe that those who work with asylum seekers must keep in mind that the seekers are here, not for comfort or economic gain, but simply because they are not safe in their homeland. Most have encountered and overcome extraordinary danger on their way here, and most suffer scars, physical or mental, acquired on their journey. In addition, they may display a chronic, free-floating anxiety known as culture shock, a term that covers a number of reactions that individuals may have dealing with long-term exposure to a new environment.
The emotional needs of our guests is a primary responsibility.
CASP’s case manager is trained in evaluating the various problems our asylum seekers may have, and the manager will refer those seekers for appropriate psychological treatment if needed. However, it is up to all of us to be alert to what may seem to be a seeker’s unreasonable fears, depressions, tantrums, or other out-of-place behaviors and to report these to the case manager for evaluation.
Also, it may seem natural to us to ask seekers to share the experiences that brought them to this country, but often this kind of remembering will trigger traumatic responses. The best course is to wait until our guests feel ready to come forward with their stories and do so without prompting.
Finally, although we believe there is little chance that the threats our seekers have come here to escape will follow them or that misguided resentment in our own community will find them, it is wise to be cautious and to report any unusual incidents to a CASP representative for investigation or intervention. It is CASP policy that the CASP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a designated agent must approve, prior to release, any publicity concerning the asylum seekers under our care. Confidential information, such as medical, financial, and legal status, shall not be shared with anyone unless authorized by the guest or in an emergency.
Imagine. Your spaceship crash-lands on a newly discovered world. You can breathe the air, eat the food, but the inhabitants (who look very much like you) speak in weird grunts and whistles. They sometimes laugh when you see nothing funny, they sometimes cry for no reason you can explain. And you must come to terms with all this because you’re stranded in this strange place, trying to survive and to thrive. This is your new life.
This is how it may seem to asylum seekers trying to find their way in a new community that may be vastly different in language, culture, customs, and ethics. There is no single or simple way to deal with this. Learning English is, of course, important, and CASP tries to support this in every way possible. Children, here, must go to school, and we are thankful for a public school system that mandates ESL learning.
We believe that having many varied opportunities to connect with their new community is important for all seekers, and so we support volunteers who want to help by offering home visits, shopping support, event accompaniment, or local area orientation walks or drives.
Can you find a way you can share a part of your life with an asylum seeker?
CASP’s long-term goal is to make it possible for our guests to live independently, to be self-supporting, and to enjoy the freedoms and safety this country can offer. To do this, we guide and, more importantly, listen. We offer respect, believing that it will be transformed by our seekers into self-respect. We try to act in the interest of our guests, just as we hope others would act toward us should we crash-land into their world.
This section provides guidelines for your volunteer work with CASP. If you have questions, feel free to contact the CASP Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com.
Volunteering in Person
In order to work in person with our asylum-seeking guests, you need to:
- attend a CASP Volunteer Training Session via a live videoconference or online recording
- satisfy Vermont OSHA requirements regarding COVID-19
- complete a national criminal background check
Background checks for CASP are conducted by a commercial enterprise, not the government, and the report is returned to you for you to review and forward to CASP. If you feel that the report might unjustly disqualify you, you can get in touch to discuss it.
Again, these requirements only apply to volunteers who would like to work in person with our guests. Detailed instructions about how to meet the requirements will be provided after you finish reading this page and press the “I AGREE” button.
In the course of volunteering, you may incur expenses such as driving expenses. If you anticipate wishing to be reimbursed, please request authorization in advance from the Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff, Volunteer, and Guest Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Prevention
The Community Asylum Seekers Project, Inc. (CASP) is committed to maintaining an environment that respects the rights of our guests and one another. Sexual abuse or other unwelcome conduct is strictly prohibited, and we reject any such behavior.
No one should be subjected to conduct such as (but not limited to) touching, blocking, staring, making sexual gestures, making or displaying sexual drawings or photographs, or verbal conduct such as sexual propositions, slurs, insults, jokes, and other sexual comments. Such behavior should cease immediately in response to any objection voiced by another.
We ask that anyone who observes such misconduct report it to a CASP officer, host, or case manager, depending on the circumstances. No reprisal, retaliation, or other adverse action will be taken against any person who in good faith reports abuse or misconduct or assists in an investigation of such abuse or misconduct, and we will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of those involved.
Sexual abuse is a crime and must be treated as such. It is defined as undesired sexual behavior of one person upon another using physical or psychological force. Reasonable allegations of sexual abuse will be reported to local law enforcement agencies for investigation and further action as appropriate. The accused will be suspended from any involvement in CASP until the investigation is complete.
CASP will take prompt disciplinary and remedial action in response to violations of this policy. If you need clarification of what constitutes misconduct or unwelcome behavior, contact Executive Director Kate Paarlberg-Kvam at 802.579.1509, or email@example.com.
NOW, AGAIN, WE WELCOME YOU TO CASP!
While it is necessary to share the rules and regulations set forth above, we’re happily looking forward to working with you as, together, we support the people who have risked so much to find safety and a renewed life in the U.S.
Many of you will be working in your own communities, and you can direct questions to your local team leaders. For unanswered questions, please write to the CASP Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To serve as a CASP volunteer, you need to sign the following agreement by entering your name and pressing the “I AGREE” button below.
I have read and understood the volunteer policies outlined above and am willing to undertake volunteer assignments in compliance with those policies. This means that I will follow CASP’s rules for drivers, will not work alone with asylum seekers without meeting CASP’s requirement for a criminal background check, and will follow CASP’s policies on publicity, confidentiality, and sexual misconduct and abuse prevention.