Refugees want English — to connect and contribute.

Too many refugees struggle to connect because of their lack of English.

They want to be proud contributors to their new home, but, instead, feel shut out. 

That's why we teach refugees English and U.S. citizenship free of charge.

Through English refugees can connect with our local communities and proudly contribute by volunteering with dignity.

Just because refugees have been legally resettled in America doesn’t mean life automatically becomes great.

  • They’re required to learn English, find employment, and assimilate into a new society, all within months of arriving.
  • Most don’t have a single American friend.
  • A split widens in many refugee families when parents struggle to speak into the lives of their English-speaking children.

When refugees connect with Abounding Service

Amazing things happen!

Refugees speak English with confidence.

They connect with our communities, belonging as friends and equals.

Refugees contribute by fully using their gifts, proudly volunteering with dignity.

Sada Video

Sada's Story (Emmy-Nominated)

Sada and her family came to America after years of struggle and devastating loss in Congo. She and her husband, Olivier, began taking English classes and building community at Abounding Service. Now, their entire family is on a path toward connection and contribution.

Helping refugees like Sada matters a lot to our whole team

We understand how badly it feels to be shut out.

This is why we’ve taught English and citizenship with 1-on-1 volunteer Encouragers to over 1,200 refugees for 12 years — all free of charge.

A key to our students’ success is in building relationships with our American Encouragers. It transforms the volunteers’ lives as well!

Leadership

Gary and Derek lead Abounding Service with the belief that the entire trajectory of a refugee family can be wonderfully changed by giving them the ability to learn English and become part of a new culture.

  • Gary DeVelder

    Gary DeVelder

    Pastor Gary DeVelder is the Founder and Executive Director of Abounding Service. Gary was ordained to the ministry in 1969 and has held positions in religious education, fundraising development, and non-profit administration.

  • Derek DeVelder

    Derek DeVelder

    Derek DeVelder is the Assistant Director of Abounding Service. He was an English instructor for adult refugees at Lutheran Family Services in Albuquerque, NM, and has worked in performing arts administration in marketing and fundraising.

History

  • “What do your people need?”

    In 2009, after decades of helping people so that they can go and serve others, Gary met Tara Nepal, a Bhutanese refugee leader in Phoenix who exclaimed, “My people need English!”

  • Building relationships

    Gary paired eager volunteers with refugees to learn English in a way that made it easy to jump right in. These relationships built belonging and confidence.

  • Helping more

    Classes at a nearby church gained over 100 adult refugee students, then expanded to a donated apartment in a complex entirely of refugees, and continued over the years in a similar condo.

  • Continuing to serve

    Over 12 years, more than 1,200 refugees have taken English classes at Abounding Service. We have coached several each year who passed the difficult naturalization test/interview and are now proud U.S. citizens!

Our Team

Our Board

Dr. Sarah Eary, Chair

Rev. Donna Buckles, Vice Chair

Randy Gault, Secretary

Mike Gallagher, Treasurer

Robert Hawthorne, Director

Rafiki Niyonzima, Director

Chong Bee Vang, Director

Our Staff

Gary De Velder
Founder and Executive Director

Derek DeVelder
Assistant Director

Ryan Taylor
Class Lead and Curriculum Development

Partner Organizations

Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest

Vision & Values

Our Vision

The marginalized are empowered to serve others

Our Mission

We teach adult refugees English, changing the trajectory of entire families.

Core Beliefs

  • We believe everyone is created to serve others in such a way that those people, in turn, will serve others.
  • Volunteers are key to our vision and mission because of the relationships they develop with refugees.
  • Refugees who learn English will connect, belong, and serve others, changing the trajectory of entire families and impacting their communities.

Our Values

  • Connect

    We value providing opportunities for UN-sponsored refugees to find connection and community. In Luke 14, Jesus says that we are to go out, find the marginalized, enable them to come in, and fill His kingdom.

  • Serve

    We value serving people created in God’s image in such a way that they will be able to serve others.

  • Belong

    We value what God says in Leviticus 19:34. “Treat them (foreigners) as you would an Israelite, and love them as you love yourselves.” We want to provide a community where refugees feel like they belong. 

Read more about what we value in our Statement of Faith.

How you can help:

The simplest and most impactful way is a monthly recurring donation.

For only $25 a month, you provide refugees free English lessons, changing the trajectories of entire families.

As a result, they’re able to connect with others and contribute with pride and dignity.

Other excellent ways to help

  • Sign Up, Stay Updated

    Derek DeVelder, our assistant director will personally connect with you!

  • Make a Single Donation

    Help scholarship free classes for refugees as they rebuild their lives through English.

  • Take the Arizona Tax Credit

    Donate to help refugees and increase your tax refund — or reduce the amount you owe on your Arizona state taxes by the exact amount you donated.

  • Volunteer

    Volunteer to help refugees connect and proudly contribute.

Looking for something to use right now? Connect with refugees you meet. But, be sure to avoid the "Ten Traps" when communicating with your new friends.

  • Download our helpful guide, "Top Tips for Communicating with Refugees" and avoid the Ten Traps!