Community Support for Refugees
A supportive community is key in successful resettlement for LSC refugees. The Circle of Welcome is a Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) initiative designed to engage both faith and community groups in the successful integration of refugees into communities in the United States. This initiative is anchored in a close partnership between LIRS, LSC, and volunteer teams from faith and community groups.
Welcoming the stranger is a calling shared by most faith traditions and people of good conscience. Perhaps now more than ever, there is a critical need for private support for resettling refugee families and walking with them as they rebuild their lives.
The Circle of Welcome program allows for both local and distant partners to play a pivotal role in a family’s ‘long welcome’ (the process by which newcomers are received and eventually integrated into their communities). Similar to sponsoring children or families overseas, this refugee integration program allows groups throughout North and South Carolina an opportunity to engage refugees in service and friendship.
Your faith and community group not only has access to local resources refugees can tap into, but your community networks and connections are beneficial to the newly resettled refugee families. Your partnership with us creates a welcoming group of friends that results in a strong support system for refugee families.
- Improve outcomes for refugee families arriving in the U.S. by engaging faith and community groups and local resettlement agencies in shared resettlement and integration work across the country;
- Enhance the longer-term integration and not just short-term stabilization for newly arrived refugees;
- Create meaningful and simple ways for faith and community groups to engage with and walk alongside refugees in service and friendship.
The Circle of Welcome has three distinct models of engagement levels for faith and community groups. All models require a one-year commitment as well as a financial contribution from the faith or community group. These three models allow options that are based.
Newly Arrived Model
- Volunteer team is engaged after the refugee family arrives
- Volunteer team assist LSC with essential activities as determined in agreement between LSC and volunteer team
- Volunteer team is required to be within 50 miles, or in some cases, up to 100 miles, of the refugee family, which allows them to engage with the family on a regular basis
Post Arrival Model
- Volunteer team is engaged after the family arrives
- Volunteer team assists LSC with essential activities as determined in agreement between LSC and volunteer team
- Volunteer team is required to be within 50 miles of the refugee family, or in some cases up to 100 miles, which allows them to engage with the family on a regular basis
- Focus is on integrating the refugee family
Distant Partner Model
- Volunteer team is engaged regardless of proximity to LSC office
- The focus is on education of volunteer team, advocacy, and financial support
Depending on the model selected, there are a variety of activities to participate in. For all models, it is the role of the team and faith and community group to support LSC’s efforts in refugee resettlement. Teams participating in both the Newly Arrived and Post-Arrival model will commit to meeting with the refugee family once a week to assist with the transition into the family’s new home and culture. Teams participating in the Newly Arrived model may participate in the following:
- Gather furnishings and supplies for the house
- Stock the pantry with culturally appropriate foods
- Provide seasonal clothing for the family members according to their needs
- Help the family learn more about their new community
- Assist with transportation needs
- Help with the development of conversational English
- Work on financial education and literacy with the family