-By Marla Sell, Lead Case Manager, Lutheran Congregational Services
Refugees who were forced to flee their homeland because of violence and poverty, joined together in their new country to celebrate Christmas with help from Lutheran Congregational Services, a service of Liberty Lutheran. LCS Volunteers and staff also took part in the festivities of the Refugee Resettlement program’s annual Christmas party on December 7 at St. Stephen’s Outreach Center in Allentown.
You could see the camaraderie and the smiles on their faces and it was clear everyone had a great time. Case Manager Lina Yako organized arts and crafts for the children. Boxes filled with donated hats, scarves and gloves were available to our refugees to pick out what they need for the winter months. Everyone also brought delicious food to share. LCS is grateful to Nazareth Pallet Company for providing soda and juice for the party. We also thank St. Stephen’s for the use of their facility, and special thanks to their sexton, Noel Ramos, for making the space available and serving hot coffee to party-goers on a cold day!
So far, during our program year, which runs from October 1-September 30, Lutheran Congregational Services has resettled 12 refugees and we anticipate up to 80 by the end of next September. Refugees are coming primarily from Burma and Iraq, with some from other countries, primarily in Africa, such as Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. When a refugee family arrives to the area, our refugee resettlement services are designed to create a smooth transition to life in the local community and to promote economic self-sufficiency. We are responsible for gathering available resources, finding housing and employment, and providing general cultural orientation for them in the Lehigh Valley.
We could not successfully resettle refugees without the help of volunteers and churches. We thank all of the churches and groups who have already supported our program, either financially or with donations of household items and furniture. Additionally heartfelt thanks go to those of you who contribute so much of your time and experience in helping our refugees to adapt to their new country.
However, we continue to need your help, particularly monetary donations for our Refugee Emergency Fund. All of the money in this fund is used directly for the support of refugees. If you are interested in helping refugees in the Lehigh Valley, or would like more information about the program, contact Marla Sell at 610-770-9205 or [email protected] We are also happy to speak about refugee resettlement to your congregation or group.
Lutheran Congregational Services is a service of Liberty Lutheran, a social ministry organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Liberty Lutheran annually provides vital resources to more than 61,000 individuals from the earliest stages of life to the advanced stages of aging, through its family of services in Eastern Pennsylvania.