Since August 2021, Good Counsel Services has been assisting Afghans at risk of persecution under the Taliban through humanitarian parole. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, humanitarian parole “allows an individual who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission into the United States to be in the United States for a temporary period for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” While these applications are rather costly, some people have assisted in the process, including Drew and Jeri Dunphy. We recently spoke with Drew, who served as a financial sponsor and petitioner of an Afghan family and a current volunteer with us. Read more about his story and why he and his family chose to step up and assist during a time of crisis.
DREW (& JERI) DUNPHY
Drew is a proud veteran of the military and Coast Guard Academy graduate. Following his graduation, he served in active duty for five years. He then served as a criminal investigator for thirty years, first with the Coast Guard Investigative Service and later with the Department of Defense. During this time, he went to a lot of places in the world, including Afghanistan. His wife, Jeri, a middle school ESL teacher, worked with students from all over the world. During the 2016-2017 school year, Jeri worked closely with a student from Afghanistan for several months and has continued to maintain a close relationship with the student, even after the family returned to Afghanistan. In 2021, Drew and Jeri decided to serve as financial sponsors and as petitioner for the Mullah family (we have changed the family name for their protection and that of others).
What sparked his desire to assist Afghan refugees?
After the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, the student’s father became a target because he had worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the family went into hiding. Upon hearing about how the situation in Afghanistan put the Mullah family at risk, Drew and Jeri felt quite helpless. Initially, the Dunphys tried to help the family with applications for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). However, because the company did not contract directly with the US government, Mr. Mullah was not eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa. After seeing an article about the humanitarian parole work Good Counsel Services was doing for Afghan refugees, Jeri contacted the organization to see what they could do.
How is Drew contributing to Good Counsel Services’ work with Afghan families?
With the help of Drew and Jeri, Good Counsel Services was able to put together nine humanitarian parole applications for the entire family. Drew and Jeri notably served as financial sponsors for the family, while Jeri served as the petitioner on the applications. For Drew,
“it really made an impression…because…at one point, we went from a position of having no hope for this family to now we have some hope. Any organization that can provide hope, where there might not be any, [is] probably an organization I'd like to be affiliated with,”
he says. He now volunteers at Good Counsel Services on the financial resource development team, where he works on initiatives related to fundraising for the organization’s humanitarian parole work.
Who has had the strongest influence on him and shaped who he is today?
Not surprisingly, Drew credits Jeri for having the strongest influence on him and shaping who he is today. Up until the time Drew met her when they were students together at the Coast Guard Academy, he said he had a very narrow worldview. He says that in his early years, his views were not well informed and that he needed to broaden them, Jeri, on the other hand, already had a broader view of the world. She had traveled the world, had lived in Sweden for a year, and spoke several languages already. Fortunately for Drew, an introvert, Jeri was willing to share her experiences with him and to try to cultivate that in him. Now, after several decades together, he believes that his views are more well informed than they would have been without her.
Other Life Lessons
“Dream big and don’t be afraid of failure…every step toward a dream is self-improvement and makes you a better person. Whether you ever get to the dream or not, you have to dream big, you have to pursue it. And it’s going to make you a better person because of that.”
“Individuals matter…Individuals can have huge impacts if they allow themselves to…too many people sit back and think they can’t do anything, and I disagree with that. Individuals can do a lot.”
Good Counsel Services continues to support Afghan nationals who are at risk of persecution and seeks assistance with humanitarian parole applications. The organization is always on the lookout for people seeking to financially sponsor families. Please consider donating directly to help us cover costs internally and pay application fees. Donate here.
If you’re interested in volunteering in our efforts, fill out this form. Also, in partnership with Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun, we recently hosted a training on how to complete humanitarian parole applications here. The slides can be found here.