Across the globe, catastrophes from famine to war force millions of people to flee their homes each year. In response to these humanitarian crises, charities and nonprofit organizations step up to offer relief and aid in a variety of different ways. Here in the United States, we have many different organizations, including large international charities and small, locally-focused community groups, all working to help refugees. Here are our favorites:
Based in Rochester, NY, Refugees Helping Refugees was founded in 2002 as the Somali Community of Western New York. Over the years, the refugee community in western New York grew and the organization grew as well, changing its name to better reflect its work and purpose.
When it was founded, this fantastic organization focused mainly on offering programs and services for Somali elders who were unable to work and often ended up isolated in their homes. Lunches and exercises classes soon expanded to English language lessons, citizenship training, and youth programs.
Today, Refugees Helping Refugees is able to encourage self-reliance, self-determination, and personal growth for new refugees. Program offerings include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, Workplace Experience Program (WEP) Training, Case Management, and of course the Senior Services that started it all.
As with Refugees Helping Refugees, the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah (RIC-AAU), began to help a specific community.
In 1977, RIC-AAU was founded to help Asian refugees and immigrants who had resettled in Utah with the transition. In the organization's 40-year history, it has grown and now assists over 2,000 refugees, immigrants, and community members on an annual basis.
The core mission of the RIC-AAU is to help refugees overcome barriers and obstacles to becoming more self-sufficient. By offering all services in a single, centralized location, the RIC-AAU is able to connect people with as many resources as possible in one place.
RIC-AAU aims to help refugees of all ages. Their Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center is open to anyone in the community who may need access to after school programs, English as Second Language (ESL) courses, early literacy, financial literacy, parenting classes, and many other community services available for walk-in services.
You can find out more information about the great work that RIC-AAU is doing and get involved by donating or volunteering on their website.
Since 2003, US Together has worked to serve the needs of the central Ohio refugee and immigrant population. As a mutual assistance agency, US Together was founded and continues to be run by former refugees.
US Together is an official Resettlement and Placement agency with for the United States. This means they provide primary resettlement services to refugees in their area for the first 30 to 90 days after arrival in the country.
From picking people up at the airport and ensuring they have a hot meal upon arrival to arranging for classes and workshops, these primary services through US Together form the foundation of a new life for refugees in central Ohio.
In addition to these necessary, initial services, US Together helps refugees by through a range of other programs.
Interpreter services and ESL classes and tutoring are available to help people communicate and learn English.
Their Women’s Empowerment and Life Skills Education Program focuses on the needs of single refugee women, who come to the United States often grieving the loss of their husbands and other family members.
US Together also has a unique and important Survivors of Torture program. Designed to address the unique needs of refugees who have lived through traumatic events that were the result of armies, governments, and gang violence outside of the United States. US Together has a specialized team to help meet the social, medical, emotional, and spiritual needs of these refugees.
In 1933, Albert Einstein suggested the formation of an American branch of the International Relief Association to assist Germans fleeing Hitler. In 1945, after merging with Emergency Rescue Committee and changing their name, the International Rescue Committee began their first emergency relief and resettlement services.
In 2016, over 26 million people benefitted from the services provided by the International Rescue Committee, including 13,400 newly settle refugees in the United States.
With 27 separate offices across the country, the International Rescue Committee offers localized services in some of our nation’s largest refugee communities. Each office has slightly different services and programs, such as the New Roots Community Garden in Abilene, Texas, but every location helps with the basics: a furnished home, nutritious and affordable food, education, employment empowerment, and legal services toward residency and citizenship.
To find out how you can help the International Rescue Committee, check out their website.
The needs of refugees are many and varied, but so are the organizations who are willing to help them. If you would like to help refugees in the United States, you can check out any of these great organizations or find out which charities are working with refugees in your community. You might be surprised at the many ways you can help people begin their life anew.