Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

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The factors motivating a refugee to become a U.S. citizen can be many and vary from person to person.  Here are a few common motivators refugees applying for citizenship have expressed to those of us who have helped them along in the process.       Do you sit on pins and needles waiting for the next presidential election to come around, or pour over the Charlotte Observer for information about each candidate in the upcoming local election?  Some Americans gladly exercise the right to vote at every opportunity, however, many of us take this right for granted.  Only U.S. citizens can vote in county, state, and federal elections.  Many refugees were denied a voice in government before coming to the U.S.  Becoming a U.S. citizen finally allows them the opportunity to participate in government.      Five years can be a long time to wait!  That’s the minimum amount of time it takes a refugee to become a U. S. citizen.  When refugees are admitted for resettlement in the United States, the expectation is that they will become Permanent Residents and later citizens.  Becoming a U.S. citizen is, therefore, one step in the process of resettlement, and the final fulfillment of a commitment
1. About 70% of new arrivals to Charlotte in 2013 were from Bhutan and Burma.  Each year nearly 70,000 new refugees arrive in the United States, with CCDOC welcoming between 300-400 to the Charlotte area.  2. The Bhutanese lived for about 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal waiting to be accepted for resettlement.  The majority of refugees are never resettled.  Over the past ten years only 836,500 refugees have been granted the opportunity, compared with 15.4 million people in the world who claimed refugee status last year alone.  Less than 1% of refugees are ever resettled into other countries. 3. Most refugees want to work 2nd shift so they can go to English as a second language classes.  In Charlotte, the top 3 industries that hire refugees are distribution warehouses, food packaging and preparation, and hospitality. 4. Refugees do pay taxes just like the rest of us.  They are immediately and permanently authorized to work in country upon arrival.  Employers also receive tax credits for hiring refugees. 5. Many refugees want to become citizens, but they must wait 5 years after arrival and pass the citizenship test.  Before they are granted citizenship, they are considered stateless, and lack many basic
"I just want to have a place for when I cross to the other side"....These words were spoken by an 83 year old woman who called Catholic Charities after a visit to her doctor.  Her health was failing and her steps were now slower.  She shared that after living a full life, facing death brought a terrifying fear.  It was not death she feared; instead she feared what would happen to her body at the time of her death.  This once proud now frail woman spoke of taking care of her husband of 65 years until his death.   After her husband's passing, making ends meet was tough.  There were days she did not eat so that she could afford her medicine; other days she did not take her medication so that the pills would last through the month. As the years passed and her health failed, her expenses increased.  The visit to the doctor helped to bring about a stark realization, one day she would not be here.  She wondered where would she go, what will happen to her? There was no life insurance, no prepaid plans, and no excess money each month.  Every bit of income was used to sustain

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Being a parent is a huge responsibility, but imagine being a teenager AND a parent! Here are some tips for helping teen parents face the challenges of being teenagers and parenting. Though it seems tough, teen parents can be successful with the help of positive supportive family and friends. Criticism and judgments are not helpful. It is vital for teen parents to receive the encouragement and support necessary to navigate their teenage years and be the best parent they can be to their child.  With such positivity, teen parents are more likely to be successful in their relationships, as a parent, and in school. They are more likely to live healthy lives and avoid risky behaviors such as substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, and repeating a pregnancy. Regular medical care for both the teen parent and her/his child is important. Well baby check-ups should be kept as scheduled by the pediatrician. Immunizations should always be up-to-date and current. The teen parent’s health is as important as that of the baby in order for the teen to maintain their busy lifestyle. The teen parent needs to practice healthy living by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest and managing stress. As

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  $163 will buy a lot of things.  It will pay an electric bill, a cable bill, or a phone bill.  It will fill prescriptions.  It will purchase a bus ticket from Greensboro to Oklahoma City.  It will even purchase a used copy of a college textbook.  Every now and then, $163 will be enough to transform a life.   We met a 21 year old Billy and his mother, Mae, when they visited the Catholic Charities food pantry.  Mae had difficulty walking because of a chronic leg problem.  We were impressed by how attentive Billy was to Mae as he helped her with every cautious step.  Although Billy is 21, he functions on the level of a 12 year old.  Apparently Billy's father abused him when he was a baby.  The head injury resulted in severe a developmental delay.  Billy was not able to graduate from high school and Mae is unable to work.   We spoke to Billy about his dreams.  He spoke of his dreams to learn to drive and of his hope to one day work  to earn money to support his Mom and make life easier for her.  He also dreams of one day being able to see a movie in a real
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