Alternative Break Volunteer Handbook

Alternative Volunteer Break

Nearly 33 million people around the world are uprooted from their homes and communities by persecution and armed conflict. The loss these refugees’ have suffered is incalculable: they may have lost their home, livelihood, safety, belongings, or family. Currently, less than one percent of these refugees are resettled to a permanent home.
Upon arrival, the success of these families depends on the welcome they receive from their new community.  Today’s refugees are often met with indifference, bureaucratic obstacles, and suspicion. Refugees have traveled great distances under terrible circumstances and deserve to be treated with compassion. They come seeking what our forbearers sought… life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Iraqi American Society for Peace and Friendship hopes to make this vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a reality for Phoenix’s refugees population.  Please spend the time to read the following pages and learn more about IASPF. We hope that awareness will inform compassion, and that compassion will inspire action.




Who is a refugee?


A refugee is a person who has applied for and received refugee status in another country. Phoenix’s refugees are from Bhutan, Eritrea, Congo, Sudan, Nepal, Iraq, and more. Some have doctorates while others were farmers in their home country and have never learned to read or write. Many speak no English and others taught English in refugee camps. They may have spent a few months or their entire lives in camps. If they grew up in camps, they may not understand a life with choices or opportunity. Their religion might be a pillar of their life or a memory of the past. They may still fear for their lives and wonder about their loved ones or they might be surrounded by love and family.  With all of these differences, refugees have one thing in common: they have worked hard to have a chance in our country.  Each refugee is an individual, and AARRC takes pride in supporting their transition.


What AARRC Does


Youth Empowerment: Volunteers with work with the youth to help empower in academics, recreation and community leadership.


English as a Second Language (ESL): Volunteers work with refugees in informal classes or as a teacher of a small class. All lessons are run by volunteers and driven by requests in the refugee community. ESL teachers create their own curricula and materials from donated supplies and their own creativity.


Arts and Crafts: Our Arts and Crafts program works with refugees to make items from donated supplies. These items are then used in refugee homes or sold for revenue as a micro-enterprise venture.  AARRC organizes donations, distributes supplies, and markets products.


Women Empowerment: Volunteers will work with the women to help empower them in work readiness and mentoring them one one with during social activities and much needed workshops.


Mentoring:  AARRC volunteers mentor refugees and refugee families by helping them navigate in American culture and daily life. This is a high commitment volunteer opportunity with a six month commitment requirement.


They also help in career mentoring and workforce development training the newly arrived refugees work readiness skills and helping them get the training needed for the workforce.


Everything Else!  AARRC  has become an essential connection between refugees and Phoenix’s resources. AARRC helps to resolve communication issues, facilitate job searches, teach living skills, and direct refugees to organizations that provide further resources.


What our volunteers do


Redistributing resources (bringing donations items to those in need), reorganizing and labeling stored donations, teach sewing classes, help market refugee made products, helping to prepare for and staff events, mentoring, tutoring, teaching English, work ready skills training and create interpersonal relationships with refugees.




Confidentiality and Diversity Policy


Refugees have endured the loss of their homeland and way of life. They may have suffered family losses, intolerable persecution, and torture.  Their current challenge is to transition into an alien culture and rebuild their lives. AARRC’s confidentiality and diversity policy is to ensure that refugees are treated with respect while making this transition.




All individuals who work with AARRC agree to:


  1. Respect the privacy of refugees with whom they are working. What the refugee shares, verbally or in writing, is confidential communication and is to be shared with others only when necessary.


  1. Not make refugee names, stories, or personal information public without their consent. This includes the use of photographs and information in news stories, church bulletins, and newsletters. This also includes information or pictures on Facebook, Myspace, Snapchat, or other networking sites.


  1. Receive written consent before sharing any refugee information and consult with AARRC staff before sharing with external entities.


Respecting Diversity


AARRC team members are a diverse group of individuals from all walks of life.  AARRC  respects that each team member holds their own beliefs and that personal beliefs are an important part of individual identity.


All volunteers, staff, and recipients of services with AARRC deserve equality of opportunities.  This means that  AARRC will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, politics, veteran status, or disability.


Recipients, staff, and volunteers deserve to be free from pressure or condemnation because of their beliefs.  While serving, all members of the AARRC team agree to act, speak, and behave in ways which demonstrate acceptance and inclusion.


I have read AARRC ’s policies on diversity and confidentiality.  I understand these policies and agree to abide by them.


__________________________________________            ________________________

Full Name                                                                               Date






  AARRC  Volunteer Contract


Commitment: I understand that  AARRC Refugees and Staff are counting on me when I make a commitment. If I cannot attend a commitment, I will inform the program supervisor by email with as much notice as possible so that a replacement can be found. I will give at least 24 hours of notice before breaking any commitment.


Work Quality: I will work hard in order to produce quality work and to leave the community with a positive impression of AARRC  .


Safety: I understand that my safety and the safety of everyone involved with AARRC depend on my choices. I will take care of my own health when volunteering and be alert. I will never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while volunteering. Whenever leading a group, I will carefully explain how to keep everyone safe.


Respect: I am aware that I will serve with a variety of people and will treat all differences with respect and understanding. Although language and cultural differences may lead me to feel frustrated, I will give each individual the time and respect they deserve. I know that there is never a reason to be disrespectful to a community member, volunteer, staff member, intern, or refugee.


Teamwork: As a part of the AARRC team, I will work to understand others’ viewpoints and my own contribution to misunderstandings. I will deal with any issues in a professional manner and in person. I will respect staff and other volunteer’s time by dealing with personal issues outside of work.  I will request assistance with issues regarding a team member only after attempting to work through issues independently.


Attitude: I chose to be a part of the AARRC team because I believe I can make a positive impact on the refugee community in Tucson. I will ensure that my attitude reflects this belief during my volunteer work and remain a positive influence on my community.


Confidentiality and Diversity: I understand and have signed AARRC ’s Confidentiality and Diversity Agreement. I will follow these guidelines throughout my service.



__________________________________________            ________________________

Full Name                                                                               Date





Alternative Break


We are pleased to plan the service work for groups volunteering with us.  We supply your group with all of the necessary materials and teach you about your job each day.


Before volunteering, we are excited to share with you about the refugee situation in Tucson, our organization, and the impact of your work.  If your group is interested in tying in specific service learning goals, please let us know and we will be happy to accommodate.  Sharing about refugees is an important part of why we host service groups.


Groups that come to serve with AARRC  plan their own housing, site seeing, and meals while in Phoenix.  To do so on a budget, many groups speak with churches for housing and ask for a service group discount when renting vans.  Because of our small staff and limited budget, we are not able to find housing or transportation for you.


Since you are responsible for your own housing and planning, we do not charge anything to volunteer with us.  We are proud to be chosen as your volunteer site and cannot wait to work with you!


Steps to Arrival


  1. Tell AARRC about your group.  Please give us a few possible dates, the number of people in your group, the ages of your members, and any specific interests of your group.


  1. Once we have confirmed that we can accommodate your group, Find housing, transportation, and look into meal sites for your group.  There are lots of places to eat and play in town!  Please remember that you need to have transportation on days that you serve with us to get to service sites.  For most groups, rental cars or a van work best.


  1. Make sure that each of your volunteers has read the orientation packet and signed where applicable.  Please pay careful attention to our diversity and confidentiality policies.


  1. Have fun serving and sharing cultures!  We are so excited to have you!



All Inclusive Trips


For those who are on a tighter schedule with a more open budget, we are happy to create a more inclusive trip.  In the past, we have worked with senior travel groups and families to plan all aspects of their trip.


A possible schedule


Arrival Day: From the airport, we will help you to find your rental or shuttle and settle you into your hotel.  In the evening, we will meet for orientation.  Orientation includes a buffet meal, interactive activities, and interesting stories.


Work Days: Each work day, you will spend about 6 hours volunteering and an hour for lunch.  You will work beside and for refugees as you share life experiences.  Work days will vary allowing you to beat the sun on harvest days and sleep in before cooking.


Work Nights: During the night, we will journey with our new refugee friends to explore the beauty of Phoenix.  Whether you spend your evening hiking or swimming, you will always remember this part of your trip.


Meals: Breakfast and lunch will be simple meals to keep our day rolling but dinner will include refugee culture and home cooking. (For our picky eaters we will offer a few alternative American options.) At dinner, you can expect to try new foods while also experiencing a new culture and building a relationship with a refugee family.


We are happy to provide these unforgettable trips for a donation of $75 per day per person.  This price does not include transportation or housing but we are happy to set these up for you.


All proceeds from these trips support local refugees and programming for refugees.  With your donation we are able to share cultures and build relationships.


Please contact us if you are interested in this option.