A spirit of innovation and creativity, strong community support, and expert collaborative efforts with trusted networkers are the key factors that allow Catholic Charities to achieve successful outcomes for refugees in the areas of self-sufficiency and financial stability. Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement has the refugees’ best interests at heart and has been recognized for its efforts and dedication by both the National Office in Washington, D. C., and the local United Way. The program has received awards of excellence for two consecutive years.
Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program (CCRRP) has provided primary refugee resettlement services in Southeast Minnesota since 1975, under the direction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the United States Department of State (DOS). CCRRP is committed to provide newcomers with services that lead to employment, self-sufficiency, and community integration. CCRRP provides direct case management and several service provisions, including assistance with stable housing, medical access, education for children and adults, and cultural/transportation/budgeting orientations, which assist families in adjusting to a new culture and environment. Individualized support and networking with appropriate services are provided in order to equip newcomers with the tools and skills needed to become vital, contributing members of the community. We recruit and train volunteers to mentor and befriend newcomers as they adjust to life in the United States.
Each year Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement serves refugees allocated to them by USCCB and DOS. The number of refugees served each year is customarily between 100-135 individuals. Approximately 75% of those we resettle are children who have experienced great hardships and pain; longing for the daily peace and tranquility we often take for granted. In FY 2012 and 2013 we resettled both Burmese Chin and Bhutanese refugees. We have already connected with countless networkers in order to pave the way for these specific newcomers. We are collaborating with individuals at the Hindu Temple to ensure Bhutanese families are connected with those who share similar faith beliefs and customs. A majority of Burmese Chin families have Christian roots and we are working with people in the community who can provide them with similar support based on their customs and beliefs. We work closely with our diocesan parishes.
Countless donations and services empower our families and instill a spirit of compassion that the refugees want to emulate. In addition to these specific refugee populations, we continue to assist a limited number of Iraqi and Somali families who have been forced to leave their country due to war and persecution.
Our refugee families take great pride in becoming active members of our community and enhance it with their talents, skills, and dedication. It is not uncommon to see our refugees assisting the program for prospective families arriving in need. For example, families arriving at the beginning of the year may provide culturally appropriate meals for those arriving later during the year. This year, over a dozen of our refugees volunteered their time and effort at a local block party in our community whose proceeds are donated to those in need. These acts of support were extended by our newcomers as a gesture of gratitude to those in our community who welcomed them with kindness.
CCRRP also facilitates a Match Grant employment program which assists refugees who arrive with some fluency and work history in finding employment within 180 days from the date of arrival. Services include resume building, interviewing skills training, financial literacy classes, job search, and post-employment advocacy and mediation with employers. Our program also facilitates the Refugee Cash Assistance program. This is a government-funded program for single adults.
Our local community members have commended us for our efforts in implementing workshops to assist individuals in gaining financial stability. In addition to our refugee population, our financial literacy training workshops are accessible to low-income individuals in need of acquiring skills to budget wisely and make good financial decisions. Our youths are our newest target population. We have created a curriculum focusing on the challenges teens face as they enter the job market. Through the education provided to this specific group, our goal is to empower teens to make wise financial decisions and avoid the repercussions and challenges that result from poor and uninformed choices. Workshops are provided in various languages and interpretation assistance is also provided.
CCRRP strives to provide the needed services and a culture of excellence for the betterment of both our refugee population and our community.