Just like any good neighbor, Miry Whitehill is happy to lend a cup of sugar to anyone short of one. Like the best neighbor, she’s also more than happy to help out recent immigrants and refugees who may not have the means to purchase basic needs. That’s why she launched Los Angeles-based non-profit, Miry’s List.
Miry’s List was founded in July 2016 after Whitehill met Muhamad, Salma and their three young children, refugees from Syria. Whitehill heard the family was in need of a infant jumper, so she headed to Facebook to crowdsource the item. She got a response within an hour and that weekend, the family received the jumper. From there, Whitehill thought to set up a system that would help recent immigrant families in need to voice their lack of everyday items such as diapers, laundry detergent, clothes via Amazon Wishlists. Miry’s List has helped over 1,300 individuals from Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Iraq since.
“When a system fails, we as neighbors must come together and fix it,” Whitehill says. “All people deserve their basic needs met.”
In January 2017, President Donald Trump announced that refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries would be barred from entering the United States. One month later, Katie Kildow, owner of Lemon Poppy Kitchen, came to Whitehill with an idea to further integrate families in their communities while also making an income. The New Arrival Supper Club was born, not as a direct response to Trump’s Muslim ban, but as a way to say refugees are welcome.
The Supper Club is presented as a monthly pop-up dinner series catered by families supported by Miry’s List.
“Our families’ ultimate goal is self-sufficiency, and having experience firsthand many of our families’ culinary skills, I had a hunch their cooking could be a source of income,” Whitehill says.
The Supper Club has been held in restaurants, cafes, private backyards and even as picnics in the park. Whitehill says that no two dinners are alike, as they’re designed individually. Recently celebrating a year of dinners, the Supper Club has nearly sold out of every event.
“It’s clear that L.A. is the right place for a philanthropic food experience,” Whitehill says. “People come for the food, and stay for the vibes.”
From the looks of it, the Supper Clubs are more focused on community building and encouraging Angelenos to lend a hand than hitting the streets with picket signs. Not to downplay the latter, but perhaps the best way to incite activism is to start in our local communities.
“When someone joins our table, meets a new arrival family, learns about their culture and shares a meal, we hope they walk away feeling inspired and empowered to welcome new arrival families to America through Miry’s List,” she says.