St. Vincent Catholic Charities is the designated refugee resettlement agency for adults and families in Lansing and mid-Michigan. Through a federal government program, their Refugee Services assist with the basic essentials to welcome refugees to the Lansing community and help them reach self-sufficiency.
They facilitate the refugee process by:
- Picking up refugee clients from the airport
- Locating safe and affordable housing
- Providing furniture, basic household items, and food
- Providing English as a second language classes
- Enrolling children in school
- Transporting and assistance for health screenings and medical follow-up
- Providing extensive cultural orientation, financial literacy
- Applying for necessary documents & programs funded through the U.S. Department of State
- Employment services, and more.
They resettle more than 600 refugees a year, though 2020 brought them new challenges because of the government reducing the number of refugees being allowed in the United States and the pandemic which blocked travel.
At this time of year, they do have some specific needs where they welcome donations. You can visit their Amazon Wish List for their Holiday Giving Program. Each item shows which program it goes to benefit so you can select Refugee Services–or any other one. They are also asking for gift card collections from Visa, Amazon, Meijer and Walmart. You can identify which program you want the cards to go to.
Refugees are people who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion” have left their country of origin and are unable to return in fear of their safety.
Many refugees begin their journey by fleeing to a neighboring country and seeking asylum, living in refugee camps as undocumented migrants. After they are identified and interviewed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), they can be granted refugee status and can either wait for peace to return to their home country, stay in their country of first asylum or resettle in a third country.
Less than one percent of refugees will resettle in a third country, like the United States. Resettlement in a third country is the last resort for only the most vulnerable cases. The thorough process takes an average of 18 months to complete.
Since they started more than 40 years ago, they have resettled more than 15,000 refugees from 49 countries. Most of the refugees have no family or connections in the United States and require help and support while they learn English and become acclimated to a new culture.
But with the help of their compassionate team, refugees who come to Lansing are able to secure jobs, go to school, own homes and businesses and become thriving parts of our community.