Refugees Receive Assistance from Samaritas

What happens when the local corporate world aligns itself with the goals and missions of people most in need? Relief comes to refugees coming from troubled nations looking for opportunity and hope here.

With more than 80 years in the industry, Samaritas has been a champion in providing that type of assistance to Michigan’s disadvantaged families and individuals. As the state’s largest foster care agency with a full suite of family preservation programs, Samaritas will now assist individuals beyond the borders.

Immigration and refugee support has been a politically hot button issue for decades. With recent traction in the past few years, political decisions, policies and procedures have rocked the country. Now, the Chief Advancement Officer of Samaritas Kelli Dobner will co-chair the organization’s newest effort to provide relief to refugees who have made Michigan their home.

Detroit Refugee Network, or DNR, will now provide support services to refugees from Afghanistan and other nations as they resettle in Detroit. A coalition of corporate, civic and community leaders coming together to welcome refugees into Michigan, DRN will serve clients of three resettlement agencies; Samaritas, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan (CCSEM) in a concerted effort.

“Thanks to the partnership and vision of the City of Detroit, we are going to be able to help more refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere become more acclimated Detroiters, more quickly, so they can thrive in their new community,” says Kelli Dobner, chief advancement officer for Samaritas and co-chair of the Detroit Refugee Network. “Our aim is to place more than 250 individuals in Detroit, more than in any other single city in Michigan. We know this will be a welcoming city for them.”

As many escape their countries based on war, religious or political persecution, refugees will now have a safe place to settle.

Also serving as co-chair is Dr. Sonia Hassan, First Lady of Detroit and wife to Mayor Mike Duggan, whose heritage aligns with the mission of the DNR.

“As the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, I have witnessed how my parents’ drive, passion, and determination led to the American dream after starting from nothing,” says Dr. Hassan. “The Detroit Refugee Network is helping families to embark on new lives in the City of Detroit. I am deeply committed and honored to be a part of this cause.”

Samaritas has long since been a helper and advocate for refugees. Since their inception in 1934, the organization has spent decades of service to refugees from around the world. With more than 75 percent of refugees self-sufficient within 180 days, Samaritas provides the necessary tools to thrive in a new world.

DRN has already received nearly $50,000 in donations from its partner, CARE USA, which has joined the effort to provide needed cash payments up to $1,000 to refugee families who have resettled in Detroit, helping to fill in the gaps that government assistance does not cover.

“These families have left everything behind and are starting over in an unfamiliar environment,” says Ryan Shepard, CARE US associate vice president of U.S. programs. “Imagine fleeing your home and now worrying about providing your family with everything from shelter, food, and education. We hope providing this extra cash, as CARE does in other humanitarian emergencies globally, will make the adjustment a little easier for these families arriving in Detroit and beyond.”

Rocket Community Fund will help identify and execute housing opportunities, manage relationships with landlords, monitor inventory leads, coordinate move-ins and assist with job placement once refugees are settled into housing. With seven team members embedded within Samaritas as part of the DRN they represent a $750,000 in-kind donation.

“We are committed to providing lasting and sustainable housing for Detroit residents, including the vulnerable populations who now call our city home,” said Laura Grannemann, Vice President of the Rocket Community Fund. “The Detroit Refugee Network is a critical initiative that provides supports to those who need it most, and we are proud to be providing Samaritas and its partners with the support they need to fulfill this urgent mission.”

Samaritas serves as the fiduciary of the DRN, but funds raised will be made available to clients of Samaritas, USCRI and CCSEM, all of which have welcomed Afghan refugees, as well as those from other countries, and all of which are working with the City of Detroit to settle clients inside the city.

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