Samaritas to Honor World Refugee Awareness Week with Refugee Art Show and Town Hall


 

 

 

Samaritas will celebrate the lives and cultural contributions of Michigan’s refugees with the help of partners like DTE Energy, Delta Dental of Michigan, the Refugee Development Center and St. Vincent Catholic Charities during World Refugee Awareness Week. It starts on Sunday, June 13 and runs through World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 19.

“Since the 1950s, Samaritas has resettled thousands of refugees who’ve fled their native homeland because they could be persecuted for their race, ethnicity, religious or political views,” said Kevin Van Den Bosch, COO, Samaritas. “Refugees of all ages have been through traumatic experiences before arriving in the U.S. and often encounter language barriers and other challenges when they resettle.”

To aid awareness, Samaritas is hosting a free town hall for the public to learn about the positive economic and cultural impact refugees have in our communities and how we can support and improve resettlement services and programs.

Moderator Doug Tribou Host of Michigan Radio’s “Morning Edition” show will lead the discussion with former refugees and refugee experts. The town hall will take place on June 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Visit samaritas.co/RefugeeTownHall to register for this free event.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 79.5 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes. They also report that 40% of the world’s displaced people are children.

Two years ago, Samaritas had enough housing to meet the needs of all new refugees. For 2022, its expected that Samaritas will need five times that number, or 120 homes or apartments, in East Michigan alone to meet the needs of the anticipated 500 refugees who’ll arrive between Oct. 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2022. Young refugees will also need community support.

As of 2019, the UNHCR also estimated there were 153,300 unaccompanied and separated children recognized globally. Samaritas is at the forefront of this challenge. Through its affiliation with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), Samaritas is one of approximately 30 organizations nationwide designated to take care of unaccompanied children and unaccompanied refugee minors in the U.S.

“We’re especially proud to be one of the few programs in the U.S. to serve unaccompanied children and unaccompanied refugee minors,” said Van Den Bosch. “However, we’re at a crisis, and desperately need more Michigan families to get licensed to temporarily take in these kids and serve as mentors to other New Americans in our program.”

Samaritas will celebrate the creativity of the refugee youth in its care and raise funds to support them with an online art show titled, “Written Dreams in Paper/Suenos Escritos en Papel” presented by DTE Energy and Delta Dental of Michigan. The 2021 collection will be unveiled at noon on Monday, June 14 and will include information on how to purchase items from the Samaritas Youth Art Shop. Proceeds from these fundraisers will benefit Samaritas programs.  

Support from partners like Tabooli (both Lansing locations), Social Sloth Café & Bakery and the Allen Neighborhood Center will allow art lovers to see other Samaritas art pieces in-person. More information about other participating organizations is available at Samaritas.org/YouthArtShow.

Get up-to-speed on the Refugee Foster Care licensing process and visit Samaritas.org/refugee-crisis to learn more about the border crisis. Donations to support Samaritas New Americans and Refugee Youth Services programs can also be accepted via text message. Just text “RefugeeYouth” to (855) 450-0515 to donate and share information about this important topic.

About Samaritas
Since 1934, Samaritas has served others as an expression of the love of Christ with programs to help Michigan’s troubled families and disadvantaged individuals thrive. Samaritas is the state’s largest foster care agency with a full suite of family preservation programs and options like Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services to keep families together. Samaritas also manages five senior living facilities with a variety of geriatric care options. Additionally, Samaritas has resettlement services for refugees, housing solutions for adults with developmental disabilities, homeless families and Affordable Living communities for those who qualify for HUD housing. Visit samaritas.org for more information. Follow us on Facebook @IAmSamaritas, Twitter @IAmSamaritas or on Instagram @WeAreSamaritas.

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Editor’s note: Interviews with former Unaccompanied Minors from Honduras are available and supporting images are available.

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* Important Notice *

Earlier this year, Samaritas was under investigation by the state for allegations of abuse in our emergency shelter in Grand Rapids. We opened this shelter 26 months earlier for children from Central America crossing the border fleeing from horrible condition; we were asked to take in Afghan youth when there was no other place for them to go after the crisis in Afghanistan occurred. We accepted 19 youth in response to this request and our long-term commitment to help youth to the greatest extent possible at the time of their greatest need. Samaritas was one of several similar emergency shelters across the country asked to take in these refugee youth.

Due to the severe level of trauma they had endured, many of them required intensive therapy and counseling. As a result of the growing concern we had for the depth and breadth of those needs of the youth and the safety of our team, we made the decision to work with our referring partners to move the youth to other programs where they could access the higher level of trauma-informed care, supervision, and medical attention that they required. Due to state and federal oversight of our programs, we are unable to share specific details of the investigation but we were cleared of any abuse allegations by the state and all youth were transferred to appropriate residential placements where they could receive the care they needed. Samaritas continues to be a state and federal leader in refugee resettlement, including refugee foster care.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430