People’s Church is making plans to co-sponsor a refugee family arriving this spring or early summer. We will be co-sponsoring with Bethany Christian Services. Bethany is one of nine faith-based organizations in the US that the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement partners with.

refugeeThe role of the co-sponsoring church or organization includes: securing household donations so that the families have a “ready to live in” home when they arrive, provide friendship and social connections, facilitate community connections, help with transportation, provide English language tutoring, education liaison, and budget mentoring.

On April 3rd interested members of People’s Church and community members met to set up People’s Core Team that will work to organize our Church and make preparations for the arrival of the refugee family that we will co-sponsor.  Since Bethany often does not know until about 2 weeks before the family arrives, it is important that we begin preparing.

Ann Feldmeier (feldtrow@aol.com or 269-720-1649) has agreed to lead the Core Team. If you are interested in helping in any of the areas listed above, please contact Ann.

The entire congregation can help by donating items for the refugee family’s home. A detailed list of what is needed will be available in the foyer for sign-up as well as on-line. Click here (http://www.signupgenius.com/go/508054baaa82ba20-help) to see the list of items needed and to sign up to donate items. Marj Lightner (skiporie@yahoo.com or 269-353-1311) has agreed to over-see this project. Please contact Marj for assistance or if you have questions.

Approximately 70,000 people a year are provided asylum and resettlement in the US. In order to be given refugee status an individual or family has to have already crossed to a border country of first asylum before they can apply for resettlement in the US. It is usually at least a two year process.

Bethany expects approximately 385 refugees this year. (In past years the number was around 300 a year). Previously, individuals and families have been resettled in the Grand Rapids area. However there is a housing shortage in Grand Rapids and Bethany has begun resettling some refugee families in the Kalamazoo area where there is more affordable housing available. Refugee families have already started to arrive for resettlement in Kalamazoo and Bethany is currently setting up a group home for ten orphaned boys who will begin arriving May 1st.

The federal government funds the expenses of resettlement through financial support for case workers that work with the refugee families. The program also provides a monetary allotment for each refugee individual.  The goal is self-sufficiency within 6 months of arrival. Bethany secures housing, provides case management, helps find employment for the adults, takes care of health appointments and works with DHSS/SS  to facilitate services, as well as making sure that PTSD counseling services are accessed if needed.

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