Migrants join volunteers to rake leaves for senior citizens in Woburn

Migrants join volunteers to rake leaves for senior citizens in Woburn

Dozens of migrants recently lent a helping hand in Woburn, joining volunteers to rake leaves for senior citizens. 

A total of more than 200 volunteers took to driveways, sidewalks and lawns in Woburn as part of the raking effort on Sunday. Fifty Haitian migrants who have been calling the city home were among the group. 

“It was a great pleasure to participate in this activity,” said one migrant, Thomas Junior, through a translator. “It was nothing compared to what the people have been doing for us in this country.” 

Junior was forced to leave Haiti and flee to Chile four years ago with his wife and child. In Chile, he said, their lives came under threat, forcing them to flee again. 

While in Woburn, Junior and his family have been able to find some peace, a warm place to sleep, food and a school for their child. 

“Here, we have found people helping us with everything including bringing the kids to school,” Junior said. “They give us a place to stay. They give us food to eat, clothes to wear. It has been going well.” 

The family has also found a new community. 

“Connections are everything to all of us,” said Leah Mulrenan of Social Capital Inc. which sponsored the recent leaf raking volunteer outing. “Without your people, without having relationships and trust in a community, you see health decline. You see happiness decline.” 

“It’s really important,” she said. 

The mission of making connections is so important that Junior said he would like to make lending a hand to those who helped him a weekly way to say “Thank you.”

“We were done with the house that they assigned to us and we asked to go to other places and they told us ‘No, it was enough,’” he said. “But we would like to do this every Sunday.”

Woburn is one community that took in many of the migrants who made their way to Massachusetts in recent months. 

While local groups participate in events like the one in Woburn this weekend, state and local officials continue to grapple with the migrant crisis. 

Officials in Middlesex County, which includes Woburn, held a job clinic over the weekend to help 1,000 migrants find work. 

Massachusetts’ shelter system has remained over capacity in the meantime, according to state data, with more than 7,500 migrant families in the system.

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