Virtual Town Hall to Address Increased Need for Refugee Support Amidst Global Crisis

Statewide Leaders and Refugee Voices Gather for Discussion on June 18 in Advance of World Refugee Day

DETROITSamaritas, one of Michigan’s largest faith-based health and human services nonprofit organizations, is hosting a virtual town hall on Thursday, June 18 at 2 p.m. to discuss the current conditions and challenges refugees face around the world and here in the United States. The virtual event, which coincides with World Refugee Day (June 20), will be live on Zoom and Facebook Live.

Refugees come to the U.S. seeking protection from war, harm, disasters or persecution. Samaritas’ New Americans program supports refugees eager to learn, work and become productive contributors to society. As they become settled, refugees start businesses, create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, fuel the economy and strengthen the tax base, enriching their communities.

Samaritas is one of only five agencies in Michigan, and nine nationwide trusted to resettle and support refugees fleeing from their native country. While there are more than 70 million refugees around the world, the number admitted into the United States is at an historic low.

“We’re at a time in history where there are more refugees in the world than ever before. War, political unrest and even climate changes are forcing people from their native countries in record numbers,” said Chris Cavanaugh, New Americans Program Manager, Samaritas. “Families are on the move and many won’t ever be able to return home for fear of persecution because of their race, religion or political affiliations. As a country, we all need to evaluate how we can better support them. It’s the right thing to do.”

The town hall will provide greater clarity around refugee experiences and services needs heightened during the coronavirus pandemic. Shelley Irwin, WGVU radio host and award-winning journalist, will moderate the hour-long panel discussion, which will include the following leaders:

  • Lupia Rolly Bungala, Refugee with Samaritas
  • Ben Cabanaw, State Refugee Coordinator for the Office of Global Michigan
  • Vesna Cizmic, New Americans Program Director for Samaritas
  • Reverend Dr. William Danaher Jr. of Christ Church Cranbrook
  • Elvira Kovacevich, Manager of Gateways for Growth
  • Basel Mousslly, Manager for Migrant Services with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

Members of the public are invited to join the virtual town hall via Facebook Live by visiting Samaritas’ Facebook page at @IamSamaritas

Each year, refugees from countries such as Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma and Bhutan resettle in Michigan with the help of Samaritas, the Michigan affiliate of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service since the 1950s. For more information on Samaritas’ New Americans program, visit

About Samaritas
Samaritas has been sending ripples of positive change into Michigan communities since 1934. It is one of Michigan’s largest faith-based, nonprofit health and human services agencies and serves nearly 14,000 people statewide. The agency helps children find loving families by utilizing family preservation, foster care and adoption programs and services. Through Samaritas, New Americans can access resettlement services for refugees and establish new homes. Samaritas offers transitional homes for the homeless, women existing the prison system and victims of human trafficking. Seniors seeking cost-effective, independent living options with memory care and rehab support, can also lean on Samaritas for assistance. Samaritas also offers affordable living residential communities offer clean, low-cost environments for seniors, families and people with development disabilities. More than safe harbor in crisis, Samaritas comes through, when others don’t. Visit for more information. Follow us on Facebook @IAmSamaritas, Twitter @IAmSamaritas or on Instagram @WeAreSamaritas.

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