How You Can Help the European Refugee Crisis in Lansing

As the world watches the Syrian refugee crisis unfold and as thousands of refugees cross (or attempt to cross) the Mediterranean every month, our hearts reach out to help.  According to the latest news from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 4 million Syrian refugees have fled their country in search of safety over the past three years. Most are in neighboring countries. Many have endured tremendous hardship, fleeing their country and suffering unbearable loss.  STVCC is preparing for the resettlement of Syrians here in Lansing and is currently resettling an unusually large number of refugees from all parts of the globe.  This month, September 2015, STVCC expects to resettle approximately 130 refugees – the largest number in any one month in the last 10 years.

For the past few years, STVCC has averaged resettlement of approximately 600 refugees a year.  Next year, we are being asked to accept closer to 700 refugees, keeping in mind the need to find new homes for the large number of Syrians and others seeking protection.  Resettlement numbers are planned through a Presidential Determination provided every fall by the White House.  This number has been around 70,000 nationally over the past few years and is expected to increase to 75,000 in 2016.

Effective resettlement means welcoming new arrivals with safe, decent and affordable housing, providing education for children, health services, and, of course, employment.  But refugees need all of the same things that anyone needs for a happy healthy life – things like recreation, good food, faith, and love.  Refugees in Lansing are very fortunate to have such a welcoming community.  The people of Lansing know that refugees are good for our economy – they keep our population thriving, they work hard, they rent and purchase homes, they create businesses and job opportunities and they keep our schools open.

The truth is, the atrocities that refugees face are happening around the world, with little to no media coverage.  If you would like to be part of the world-wide movement to help refugees, please contact Marissa Nalley, Community Outreach Coordinator at STVCC Refugee Services, at (517) 323-4734 Ext. 1424 or at  STVCC can always use volunteers to help families, donations of new or gently used household goods and furniture, diapers for babies, and funds to help new families achieve their self-sufficiency goals.

JudiHarris, Refugee CrisisJudi Harris
St. Vincent Catholic Charities

Judi Harris brings 23 years of professional experience managing international health and development programs, including time having worked in Senegal, Cameroon, Macedonia, Cambodia, and Haiti as part of the Peace Corps of the United States, Partners for Development, and the American Red Cross.  Harris also has worked for the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the leading organization for refugee resettlement in the country.  In Harris’ current position as Refugee Resettlement Director at St. Vincent Catholic Charities, she has managed all activities for the resettlement of newly arriving refugees for the only resettlement program for adult individuals and families in the Lansing area for almost seven years.

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