As one of Episcopal Migration Ministries’ 30 affiliate partners across the country, the Diocese of Olympia’s Refugee Resettlement Office fulfills the church’s mission to respond to human need with loving service by helping refugees and asylees across the Puget Sound build a new life in America. Their services include resettlement and employment assistance, individual development accounts and micro-enterprise programs, as well as classes in English literacy, U.S. citizenship, business skills, and financial literacy. Over the last year, the Refugee Resettlement Office has also partnered with a number of organizations to begin developing community gardens and farming projects that allow immigrants to grow their own crops and sell produce at local farmer’s markets.
Resettlement is the core of the Refugee Resettlement Office’s work in the community, providing housing and employment assistance to nearly ten new refugees each month. The Al-Hallaq family arrived from Syria this past June and Luay, the family’s father, has recently found work with Trident Seafoods in Kent with help from the office’s job developer Irene Willis. The community of St. James, Kent has actively welcomed the Al-Hallaqs, visiting their home, taking the family on outings to the park, and providing transportation to medical appointments. As of July, the Refugee Resettlement Office was providing similar assistance to 164 new refugees and expects the number to jump dramatically over the next few months.
The Refugee Resettlement Office provides a number of training and support services for the immigrant communities they serve. In early July, the office offered a training on tenant’s rights and responsibilities and is holding classes to help refugee women open home-based daycares. Classes that teach English as a Second Language are even held in some of the apartment complexes that house refugees. The Refugee Resettlement Office has also partnered with the New Roots Fund to arrange a farming project on three acres of land at Heineck Farms in Snohomish County with the goal of teaching agricultural techniques and setting up a small farming business.
Fulfilling the Episcopal Church’s third Mark of Mission, the Diocese of Olympia’s Refugee Resettlement Office continues to respond to the needs of refugees in the Puget Sound area through loving service, giving these families the resources and the skills they will need to thrive within our communities. We’ll be sharing more stories from the Refugee Resettlement Office throughout the coming year, so make sure to keep checking in with us at ecww.org. For more information on the Refugee Resettlement Office, please visit: http://www.dioceserroseattle.org/