The Lutheran Children and Family Service staff was busy reaching out beyond the borders of their three Pennsylvania offices in February as participants in two international events.
On February 11, the Lancaster office of Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS,) Refugee Services, together with Church World Services, co-hosted a delegation of South Korean and Japanese advocates, attorneys and Non-Government Organization (NGO) professionals who are working to start refugee programs in their countries. The day-long event was held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, and featured several visits with local refugee families. The day also included staff presentations from LCFS and CWS. Topics including employment, health and mental health, were also discussed. Both agencies have cooperative agreements with the federal Department of State to resettle refugees. Of particular interest to the group was hearing how community groups work together to make refugee resettlement successful and the roles of providers, municipalities, faith-based groups and volunteers during the process.
Japan has had a pilot refugee program for the past several years, and South Korea has recently built a transition center for new refugees. The delegates expressed interest in community integration and particularly liked the “Welcoming Community” of the Lancaster programs which engage congregations, businesses, volunteer mentors and colleges to help refugees become self-sufficient and integrated into the American community.
On February 14, Rich Gitlen, Executive Director of LCFS, participated in the program “Human Rights Advocacy and Awareness” meeting with State Department- Sponsored visitors. Among the 15 international visitors were human rights activists, government workers, academics and journalists who participated in the 18-day program. The request from Washington was to hold a panel- based discussion with LCFS and the Nationalities Service Center (NSC.) The focus of the event was to provide a context for refugee resettlement in the state, and discuss the rights accorded to those with refugee status; some of the myriad challenges facing refugees; and the range of services LCFS and NSC provide to help refugees integrate into American society.
The event was hosted by the International Visitors Council of Philadelphia, located at 1515 Arch Street in Philadelphia.
Incorporated in 2001 and headquartered in Ambler, Pa., Liberty Lutheran, with locations across Pennsylvania and combined service history of 300 years, faithfully provides vital resources to more than 61,000 individuals and families facing life-changing situations. These individualized services include independent and personal care, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, hospice care, in-home supports, wellness services, children and family services, integration services for immigrants and political refugees and disaster response. Liberty Lutheran’s team of dedicated employees serves individuals and families through their family of services in Pennsylvania, including Artman, Paul’s Run Retirement Community, Liberty at Home, Lutheran Children and Family Services, Lutheran Congregational Services, The Hearth at Drexel (formerly Mary J. Drexel,) and The Village at Penn State. www.libertylutheran.org