Catholic Charities to independently continue resettling refugees
Agency continues its legacy of helping those fleeing their homeland
due to war and persecution
The board of directors for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Des Moines decided today to begin independently resettling refugees for the first time in 15 years. Previously, the agency had been working in collaboration with Lutheran Services in Iowa, which announced in late January that it will cease resettlement at the end of the fiscal year.
"This was a hard decision to make in light of the number of variables we needed to consider including the needs of the local community, the national outlook for refugee resettlement and funding," said Catholic Charities Executive Director Nancy Galeazzi. "However, our mission is to help anyone who needs a helping hand and to advocate for justice, regardless of faith, or country of origin. We believe this is what we are called to do.”
Catholic Charities Board of Directors Chairperson Marty Walsh said during the meeting, “We’re looking forward to helping as many refugees as we can. We’re committed to the program and to continue Iowa’s place in history for refugee resettlement."
Catholic Charities began working with Polish refugees in the late 1940s. Catholic Charities independently resettled refugees from Southeast Asia between 1975 and 1995, when cooperative resettlement services with Lutheran Services in Iowa began. Families from the Sudan, Bosnia, Somalia, Bhutan, Burma, Vietnam, Cuba and Iraq have been settled in Iowa.
Last year, Iowa resettled more than 900 refugees, 129 of them Catholic Charities assisted through Refugee Cooperative Services, a collaboration between Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services in Iowa.
As a result of the board’s decision, Catholic Charities will be the only agency in Iowa independently resettling refugees in the state. The agency will focus on maintaining its effort to resettle 100-130 people annually. Catholic Charities will use federal money, United Way contributions and donations of both time and money to continue the program. Resettlement efforts include assisting with housing, food, transportation, cultural orientation and job placement for the first 90 to 180 days of their arrival.
Catholic Charities will continue to work with volunteer churches, businesses and individuals in an effort to resettle families fleeing their home country because of war and persecution. Volunteers have historically played an incredible role in supporting the efforts of the program and Catholic Charities looks forward to continuing to work with individuals, non-profits and private financial supporters to provide refugees the best welcome possible to their new community.