maintaining healthy boundaries


Establishing boundaries can be very difficult; however it is one of the most important things a volunteer can do to ensure healthy and long lasting relationships with their newcomer partners. Many times when refugees first arrive they are in ‘crisis mode.’ There are more needs than any one person can supply. It is important for volunteers to understand that they are not responsible to solve all of the newcomer's problems; relatives, community resources and WRS exist to help them, as well. Volunteers should remember that the ultimate goal with resettlement is for self- sufficiency to be reached as soon as possible. If volunteers are doing too much for refugees, they are not learning how to do things for themselves.

The first step in learning to set boundaries is self-awareness. Pay close attention to the situations where you lose energy, feel overwhelmed or get frustrated. Identifying where and when you need more space and energy is the first step to setting appropriate boundaries. Once you have identified your limits, stick to them. It is best to establish these boundaries at the beginning of the relationship, but don’t hesitate to clarify boundaries at any time. We encourage you to be in communication with WRS if you are feeling overwhelmed. 

Volunteers should also remember to set appropriate boundaries with their time. Volunteers will burn out quickly if they do not set time boundaries. Perhaps it is one visit a week, maybe two. Volunteers should not feel pressured into spending more time than they can afford. It is most important to WRS and refugees it resettles that volunteers’ relationships with refugees and WRS are healthy and long-lasting. This can only happen with the appropriate boundaries.