Since our dear friend Dave Littlefield passed away on February 21, 2016, Willamarie and I have thought about a way to honor Dave that would be meaningful and lasting, and that we think Dave would have loved. To that end, we have established the David Littlefield Scholarship Fund for Children of Refugees (“Dave’s Fund”) at the I.J. and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A little background:
1. The term “refugee” is a defined term under international law. According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, a refugee is defined as someone who:
"owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
Note that a refugee is different than an “economic migrant.” A migrant is someone who chooses to leave their country in search of a better job or other economic opportunities. Refugees have been forced to leave their countries, and have well founded fears of harm or death if they return.
2. The U.S. currently admits about approximately 75,000 refugees a year. Usually they are admitted after an extensive vetting process that could take several years. Before they come to the U.S., many refugees are living in crowded refugee camps. And getting to those refugee camps in the first place often involved arduous, dangerous treks.
3. Dave was on the Board of the JCC for many years, and was the Chair of its Human Rights Committee. In his immigration law practice, he worked with many refugee families. For the last few years, Dave helped organize an annual program at the JCC honoring and raising awareness about refugees living in the Salt Lake City area, of which there are approximately 60,000 from all corners of the world.
4. The children of refugees have often witnessed horrible things that most of us would hope children never see. Some have lost one or both of their parents. Now they are in a strange new country, trying to adjust to a new life. The JCC has a scholarship program that currently allows approximately 45 children of refugees to attend summer camp at the JCC for two weeks each, where they swim, enjoy the outdoors, meet other children, learn, play and have fun, and are allowed to “just be a kid.” It is one of the really beautiful things that happens at the JCC.
5. Finding funding for these specific scholarships is a year to year effort for the JCC. Each week of camp costs approximately $250 per child.
While those annual fundraising efforts will continue, establishing Dave’s Fund will hopefully ensure that there is a permanent source of funding for at least some of these scholarships for refugee children. We are humbled and honored to be able to start this Fund in Dave’s honor, and we would be grateful if you would join us in making it a success. Donations can be made to “Dave’s Fund” below. Please give as generously as you can, but also know that every donation, no matter what size, is greatly appreciated.
Thank you and much love to you all,
Ira Rubinfeld and Willamarie Huelskamp