February 6, 2022

By Mike Mitchell, Luminus CEO

The crisis we witnessed in Afghanistan last August is now upon us. Since then, countless people have wanted to help, but many months passed before Afghans reached the United States and many more before they started landing in our communities.

The Luminus Network for New Americans has always played a role in welcoming new Americans from around the world, but never have so many arrived in such a short time frame. In partnership with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), Luminus organized a virtual Afghan Summit on February 6. Over the course of nearly 2 hours, we engaged nearly 275 guests who had the opportunity to learn directly from speakers and interact with others in the community around ways to help.

After a welcome and overview, the summit started the first hour with Sarah Craven, from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UNA-NCA Advisory Council, who shared the current situation in Afghanistan, briefing guests on the present situation. She was followed by Freshta Taeb, who spoke with great authority about cultural competence for guests to begin to understand how to approach their future volunteer work. Luminus’s CEO, Mike Mitchell, addressed the objective behind launching the Afghan Alliance of Maryland. These are to network volunteers who have the resources of time, skills, and/or expertise with needs of Afghans directly or through the organizations serving them. A crisis like this one calls for different thinking so our approach is to be a network of networks, seeking to bridge connections and mobilize a database and sharing tool to facilitate collective impact.

The second hour entailed breakouts in 8 subject areas including housing, legal, employment, transportation, and others. Guests chose the area where they wanted to make an impact and brough their ideas to those sessions of interest. After approximately 20-25 minutes, there was a report out. The notes these breakout sessions are a rich resource of people and organizations that are making a difference with Afghan refugee families and those who want to be involved.

Luminus is organizing networks of interested volunteers with teams that will serve Afghan arrivals. The organization is now arranging, following the Afghan Summit, meetings to convene those who want to be involved in legal support and housing. Additional networks will be forming. If you want to get involved, you can sign up here or email the CEO, Mike Mitchell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We thank UNA-NCA, our guests, and all those who are stepping forward to make an impact in the lives of newly arrived Afghan neighbors.

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