Debra Weiss has lived in Charlottesville for nearly thirty years. She owns the Recycled House, a homestay property in a North Downtown neighborhood that is constructed primarily from second-hand materials. Last fall, International Neighbors asked if the house might be available for a few weeks for a resettling family of five living in a hotel.
“I saw on the news that many Afghans were coming and I wanted to be able to help in some way,” says Debra. “I was so happy to be asked specifically to help.”
The refugee family spent three weeks in the Recycled House, a gift that allowed them more privacy to process the trauma they’d endured and gave the children a yard in which to play. Debra says a memory she has of that time was teaching one of the children how to use an Etch-A-Sketch, and seeing the wonder in his face when he realized that shaking the board could erase the picture.
“If I could give them a clean, safe, cozy, quiet place to just be and come together as a family, spend time together, figure some things out—I was just honored to help them,” says Debra.