Advocate Training

Table of Contents

Please read the following material to help prepare you for your role as an advocate with DASH Network. 

Purpose of Advocates – 1 minute read

The primary role of an advocate is to love asylum seekers through intentional Christian friendship, addressing both the practical needs of acclimating to a new culture as well as the spiritual and emotional needs of entering into a foreign land alone. Our goal is for each resident to have one or two advocates whom they meet with at least twice each month. We hope advocates become friends and resources for our residents, mutually serving, loving, and caring for one another. Advocates help meet the need for community and relationship among our residents and help expand their networks. 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Demonstrate Christ’s love and truth through words and actions
  • Affirm our Rule of Faith (the Nicene Creed)
  • Attend a local church regularly
  • Provide one spiritual reference who can speak about your ability to serve 
  • Have the time, capacity, and willingness to serve
  • Complete the general DASH volunteer training and the specific DASH advocate training provided on this website, writing down any questions to discuss with the Advocate Program Leader
  • Fill out the advocate application and complete an interview with the Advocate Program Leader prior to being paired with an asylum seeker
  • Complete a background check (~$20 fee)
    • The Director of Operations will connect you with this information at the appropriate time

Advocate Role Description – 3 minute read

  • Each advocate will visit with their designated asylum-seeker a minimum of 2 times per month for the duration of their DASH eligibility (around 24 months). Additional communication (i.e., texts/calls/WhatsApp messages) is expected weekly.
  • Note: It seems intimidating to think of things to do twice a month without spending a ton of money! Spending money on things and experiences for the resident you are paired with is not a requirement! Some free and low-cost ideas for ways to spend time together are listed below:
    • Invite them over to your house for dinner or a movie night.
    • Cook together–share an American dish with them or let them teach you about a dish from their culture!
    • Help to connect them with a local community of people from their home country. Ideas for this include cultural events, restaurants, churches, etc.
    • Explore Fort Worth together–check out the water gardens downtown, visit the Zoo, explore bike paths, help them access resources at the library (resume classes, ESL classes, books, etc.), help them learn to utilize the bus system, visit Sundance Square, explore the Botanical Gardens, stroll along the Trinity River.
    • Read a book together or study the Bible together and discuss what you learn!
    • Attend court dates and offer support throughout the legal process–this may include things like helping make phone calls, sending emails, scanning and printing documents, and helping find transportation to appointments.
    • If you are comfortable and there is a need, help teach them how to drive!
    • Assist children with homework.
    • Gather donated clothes or other needed items from your friends, family, and church community.
    • Celebrate birthdays, progress in their legal case, births, etc. Feel free to share these with the DASH community in the group text!

  • Attend our 4 big DASH events per year with your seeker. These count toward your required monthly visits and include:
    • DASH BASH or Walk-a-Mile (Spring Event)
    • Culture Night (Summer Event)
    • Stand With DASH (Fall Event)
    • Thanksgiving Potluck (Winter Event)
  • Communicate concerns, needs, and praises during monthly check-ins with the Advocate Program Leader (or more frequently if needed). At the end of each month, you will receive an email with touch point questions to respond to as well as updates and news from within the ministry. Please respond to these emails.
  • Attendance at the DASH All-Volunteer meetings the fourth Sunday of each month is strongly encouraged for ongoing training and support in your relationship! These take place on the fourth Sunday of each month in one of the DASH apartments (or via Zoom call when necessary) and are times when ministry updates can be shared, ideas for growth and change within DASH can be voiced by asylum seekers, and fellowship between staff, volunteers, and residents can occur.

Serving Philosophy – 2 minute read

  • We serve not out of pity but out of love and compassion, recognizing each asylum seeker’s unique giftings, dignity, and worth in Christ. 
  • Discipleship is two individuals pursuing Jesus together. Many of our seekers have powerful faith in God, and we strongly believe that just as they have things to learn from you, you have things to learn from them. We hope the process of seeking after Jesus together is one that stems from a place of humility and unity, embracing the diversity of perspectives and giftings within the Body of Christ.
  • Each asylum seeker is in a different place–spiritually and emotionally. We seek to meet each resident where they are and hope that they both hear about and see the radical, hospitable love of Christ during their time in DASH.
  • It is not necessary to know someone’s story in order to love and serve them. Some asylum seekers love sharing their story, and it is empowering when they find a platform to do so; others are extremely private or are still dealing with trauma from their past, and reliving the events would do more harm than good. We ask that you follow the asylum seeker’s lead when it comes to these conversations–if they want to talk, be a safe place to listen and process, encouraging them in the truth. If they never mention their case or why they are seeking asylum, we ask that you respect that and continue to love them exactly as they are.
  • Social media is a great place to raise awareness, but we ask that while serving with DASH you refrain from sharing photos and any other identifying information about the asylum seekers you work with even if they have social media accounts and share photos. Many of our residents fear for their lives and their privacy and safety are of the utmost importance. However, you are always welcome to share DASH Network postings

FAQ

We strongly encourage volunteers to ask thorough questions when residents share needs. Oftentimes, we have community partners that can meet those needs for free, making the requested money unnecessary. Additionally, many DASH residents do not understand how our hospital system works, and instead of an urgent visit to the ER they need to be connected with a medical clinic sometime in the next few days. Our Director of Social Services is able to assist you with any needs like these that may arise. Please do not hesitate to contact her with any questions, concerns, or needs that come up with the asylum seeker you are paired with! 

The advocate role does not require any spending. There are no shortage of needs that arise when you work with asylum seekers. DASH Network is only able to provide for housing, food, and a small stipend to empower residents to buy basic necessities. As an advocate, you fill a huge need that each of our residents has: friendship.  Beyond this, if you notice needs arise that DASH is not able to meet (medical bills, car payments, legal fees, etc.), you are absolutely welcome to reach out to your circles for support, but this is in no way an expectation for advocates. 

We encourage you to continue meeting with your asylum seeker for at least two months after graduation to support them through this exciting yet challenging transition period. Ideally, it is our hope that you will continue a lasting friendship with them for years to come!

Most asylum seekers in our program have some level of English. However, there are many fun things to do and ways to communicate that don’t require English! Speaking slowly, using hand gestures, and utilizing Google Translate are great options for communication. It can feel silly to speak very slowly or point to your mouth when you talk about eating, but these things are so helpful to your asylum seeker and make the difficulties of multi-lingual communication more fun! Plus, as you help an asylum seeker practice the English he/she does know, you set them up for success once they get a work permit and start searching for a job. More helpful ideas can be found here!

Reach out to the Advocate Program Leader, Jenifer Halvey at jthalvey.dash@gmail.com

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