Volunteering: A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

With the arrival of each new year, many people take a moment to reflect on the changes they want to make in the coming year. Whilst 2017 brought with it a lot of challenges, it also brought people together. Communities responded to hate with love, and to divisiveness with acceptance.  At Life in the Bay, we developed partnerships with the International Rescue Committee, and GiveLight.org. We hosted community events, raised awareness, and ran fundraising drives to support the Sonoma Fire Victims, as well as newly arrived refugees. In 2018, I personally feel drawn to do more. After primarily working from home, looking after my young family for the last 5 years, I am ready to get out there again. Ready to make a positive impact in the community; to support international students, and young immigrants in a personal and meaningful way through volunteering.

Volunteering: Community Sign Painting Event

Volunteering: Community Sign Painting Event

As fate would have it, just a few days ago I received an email from Refugee Transitions, soliciting volunteers for their Home-based and After-school tutoring programs.  

I met a small team from this great organization back in the summer, when UCSF hosted the REFUGEE INTEGRATION: USF4FREEDOM SYMPOSIUM.

“Refugee Transitions is a community-based nonprofit agency serving high-need, low-income refugee, asylee, and immigrant newcomers who have experienced forced migration due to war, violence, or economic duress. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Refugee Transitions provides education, family engagement, and community leadership services that help newcomers from over 50 countries become self-sufficient and successful in their new communities. A key component of our work over the last 30 years has been fostering cross-cultural relationships between receiving and newcomer communities and developing leaders within the newcomer communities.”

RT is currently seeking those willing to take up volunteering long-term, who are interested in working with their local immigrant community. They will be holding an orientation for prospective volunteers for their site-based programs in San Francisco and Oakland on Wednesday, January 17th. The RT after-school programs provide newcomer youth with individualized support from trained volunteers, staff, and youth leaders, such as homework assistance and mentoring opportunities. They currently run after-school programs at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS), Oakland International High School (OIHS), and Fremont High School in Oakland. Refugee Transitions is committed to creating a sense of belonging, developing leadership opportunities, and helping youth build supportive relationships. If like me, you’re wondering how you can do more in 2018, here’s your chance!

Volunteering: Michelle with Syrian refugee family


I invite you to learn more about volunteering with RT by visiting their site. You can also learn more about the after-school programs here and register for the orientation here.

I hope to see a few of you at the Orientation on the 17th!

Happy New Year,


About Michelle Laker

A California native; I spent 10 years living, studying, working, (and falling in love) in the United Kingdom. I returned to the Bay Area in 2011, with my British husband in tow. I am re-adjusting to life in the bay, feeling more like an expat than a local. I have spent my career working with international student & families. I love learning about other cultures, languages, and traditions. My desire to welcome newcomers, and help you make the most of your new life in the Bay Area comes from the unforgettable memories (and mistakes) I made during my time in the United Kingdom. If you've just arrived, and don't know where to start, email me (michelle-at-lifeinthebay.org). I am happy to help!

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