Five Ways To Help Refugees In Nashville

This past week, you probably heard about the executive order to suspend all refugee admissions to the United States for 120 days, block citizens of 7 Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and stop all refugee resettlement from Syria indefinitely. This affects many of our friends and neighbors right here in Nashville.

For these folks, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty right now. In times like these, as Mr. Rogers always said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” No matter which side of the fence you sit on, we believe that helping our neighbors is something we can all get behind.

So here are 5 ways you can help our immigrants and refugees in Nashville this week:

  1. Help a new American with their citizenship classes. Refugees are given the opportunity to become citizens after 5 years in the US. Help them prepare for the language and civics test so they can become the newest American citizen with Legacy Mission Village.
  2. Donate some dollars. ESL-to-Go is a mobile classroom program that makes English classes accessible to refugees by driving their 34 foot truck into refugee populated apartment complexes. In response to the recent executive orders, Tennessee Foreign Language Institute is establishing an emergency interpretation and translation services fund. Your donation allows Limited English Proficient Tennesseans who are directly affected by these orders to receive pertinent and credible information in their native language.
  3. Become an English tutor. World Relief Nashville is seeking volunteers to tutor one-one-one with refugees or teach English classes. If you are interested in volunteering as a tutor, just shoot them an email.
  4. Become a refugee youth mentor. Through Catholic Charities, a refugee youth mentor will act as a role model, advocate and supporter for a refugee youth between 9 and 17 years old. More on that here.
  5. Eat at Nashville’s immigrant-run eateries! This is something we can all be onboard with: Supporting our immigrant community one bite at a time. Here’s a handy list of places to start.

For a more extensive look at volunteer opportunities in Nashville, download these New American Volunteer Opportunities.


Beth Mathews is a designer and helper living in Nashville, and we’d also recommend checking out her Mom Bag project for another great way to welcome refugee mothers.

Photo by Chris Wage.

  • Adrianne Reza

    I’d love to volunteer, but these organizations seem to require volunteers to be Christian. Any place for the rest of us to help?

    • Hi Adrianna! Glad you want to help – You’re awesome 🙂 While several of these organizations are faith-based, they serve and receive help from all kinds of people. Because about half of the Voluntary Agencies (VOLAGs) that resettle refugees in US are faith-based, you’ll see that theme pop up a lot in volunteer opportunities as well. Having worked in that sector for a few years, I can assure that most agencies will accept help wherever they can get it.

      If you’d feel more comfortable with a local organization that isn’t faith-based, though, I’d encourage you to check out the Nashville International Center for Empowerment and TFLI’s ESL-to-go program.

      Hope that helps!

  • Sam Jerome Scarsella

    Cafe Raqqa in Hendersonville is run by a Syrian man from Damascus. Great food, great guy.