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Volunteers set up home for Afghan refugee family in Utah

Posted at 10:43 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 00:43:00-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY — A last-minute call for volunteers became a rush to set up a house for an incoming Afghan refugee family in Salt Lake County Tuesday. The group that showed up at the home raced against the clock to get it ready before the family arrived.

A Catholic Community Services of Utah truck backed up the driveway of a three-bedroom home and parked. A volunteer opened the back door, and several people gathered to grab items to bring inside.

"I'm good with the small stuff," volunteer Bella Paolucci said, with a chuckle. She picked up a couple of boxes and headed toward the front door.

Paolucci and the others don't know the family they're helping move in. But they know the family came from a tough situation, and needs all the help they can get.

A husband, wife and their four young children fled from Afghanistan and will resettle in Utah. They're some of the 120 people Catholic Community Services of Utah will help in the coming weeks, coordinating services and resources.

"There's a lot to set up. They get a whole house!" Paolucci said, enthusiastically. "So it's really nice... it's really nice to have all the help, like have all the volunteers."

CCS of Utah has been rounding up the volunteers, and taking in community donations to furnish every house. They've been working with landlords on spaces for families to live in.

They said housing has been the greatest need, and they are still looking for rental donations. They created an Independent Housing Questionnaire and a Shared Housing Questionnaire that anyone with housing donations or rental information can fill out.

CCS of Utah also set up an Amazon Wish List for needed household items.

READ: Partnership between churches supports refugees coming to Utah

Each home comes fully furnished, and CCS of Utah also provides hygiene packs, backpacks filled with school supplies, and welcome kits with blankets and books.

As CCS of Utah volunteers rushed to assemble beds and furnish the upstairs bedrooms Tuesday, the family arrived to the house early. Paolucci greeted them as they walked through the side door, into the kitchen.

"Welcome! Welcome home!" She could see the family's children were almost all under the age of 5, the youngest being a baby. "Oh my gosh, they're so cute!"

Paolucci made sure to give them a warm welcome, as the entire group worked to give the family a place to call home.

"It's really great, awesome to see them kind of settle in, see where they're going to live and see how they like it, you know. It's really great," she said. "Especially the kids. It's really fun, seeing how they adapt to everything."