Catholic Charities welcome newly arrived refugee families to Charlotte. Refugees are victims of war, political upheaval, religious, economic or ethnic persecution. They are forced to leave homes, families, friends, jobs and possessions to stay alive. Most flee to neighboring countries where they are confined to refugee camps for many years. A fortunate few have an opportunity to resettle in other countries, often far from their homeland and with many challenges like a language barriers, culture differences, different job opportunities and educational requirements.
We provide services to help refugees adapt to their adopted homeland by becoming self-sustaining and productive members of their community.
These services include:
assistance with housing
health care referrals
community and cultural orientation
budgeting and financial education
The office also provides:
transportation to initial appointments
Instruction in English as a Second Language is available through referrals to the community college. Catholic Charities began a youth program in 2006 for refugee children who attend public school.
The primary goal of the resettlement process is to help refugees work toward self-sufficiency and as contributing members of society and, eventually, attain their citizenship. Refugee's determination and perseverance is evident as they regain their hopes and dreams to live and thrive in Charlotte.
Immigration and Citizenship Services
Translation & Interpretation Enterprise
Children living in refugee camps and war-torn countries have limited access to education. Refugees arrive in the country often years behind the educational standards considered average. It is important to supplement their education to ensure success, both in the classroom and in adapting to their new home.
Refugee children receive home work assistance, enrichment, and mentoring in the Catholic Charities after-school program, Refugee School Impact Program. Begun in 2006, the program is available to refugee children who attend public school from ages 6-18 years.
During the school year, services include an after-school program for middle school clients that meet two days a week and an after-school program for elementary school clients that meets two days a week. The after-school programs focus on homework completion, tutoring, help with reading, and activities to reinforce English skills. Themes covered in the after-school program vary to some degree, but generally include topics related to health, safety, nutrition, and the interests of the program participants. Parents participate in an orientation and case coordination to help them and their children take advantage of educational opportunities and achieve academic success. Teachers report that students in the after-school program achieve and maintain an A/B average.
Summer program info :
1) A Newcomer’s ESL class is held during the summer for refugees ages 6-18 arriving in April, May, and June. (a 5-week ESL class for newly arrived refugees)
2) During the summer we offer a 5-week summer camp for refugees who have been in the U.S. up to 5 years
3) 5-week orientation program for newly arrived refugee youth ages 12-18 and their parents.
Ultimately, Catholic Charities hopes to assist and empower refugee families to realize their academic potential and achieve their educational goals. Many refugee children complete post-secondary education.
Catholic Charities provides services in refugee resettlement and assistance through case management. Case managers work one-on-one with refugees and their families to help achieve success in a new country.
A refugee is someone who has fled their country of nationality, usually to a neighboring country, because of a “well-founded” fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership in a particular social group. After fleeing their country, most refugees live in refugee camps until they are accepted for residence by another country. The wait for acceptance ranges from one month to eight years. Only 1⁄2 to 1% of these applicants are approved to come to the United States.
The US Refugee Program is a public/private partnership. After the US State Department arranges for safe travel of refugees, they are assisted by local resettlement agencies and refugee service providers. The State Department provides limited funds to these agencies to set up housing, look for jobs, rally private community support and otherwise help the refugees fit into their new country. The North Carolina Division of Social Services also provides for refugee public assistance (also federally funded) in the form of medical assistance and cash assistance. Refugees are eligible for up to eight months after arrival in the country and eligibility criteria parallel the state’s Medicaid and welfare programs. Application for this assistance is made at the local DSS.
By the Numbers
The United States limits the number of refugees accepted for resettlement each year. A total of 69,987 refugees were resettled in the U.S. in 2014. Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte resettles between 300 - 350 refugees annually. Since 1975, the agency has resettled approximately 15,000 refugees representing 27 nationalities.
Resettlement and the Future
The primary goal of the resettlement process is to help refugees work toward self-sufficiency as contributing members of society and, eventually, attain their citizenship. Refugees pay taxes and re-pay their travel expenses.
With the assistance of Catholic Charities, refugees gain success as contributing members of their communities and the local economy. The majority of adults who are able to work are successful in finding employment within three to five months. Most gain financial independence within two to three years while 60 – 75% eventually, become homeowners. Many others are business owners, athletes, carpenters, dentists, doctors, dress makers, engineers, interpreters, landscapers, nuns, nurses, pharmacists, pastors, students in baccalaureate programs, tailors, teachers and wood workers.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., (CLINIC) has produced an information sheet to help people understand the recent enforcement actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take into custody and deport families. Although the Jan. 2-3 actions took place in a handful of states, they have led to an environment of confusion and fear in immigrant communities around the country.
Catholic Charities assists qualified Legal Permanent Residents in becoming U.S. Citizens. This service is funded by a multi-year grant from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) using innovative practices and technology. Catholic Charities is one of eleven CLINIC affiliates chosen for this grant and is the site leader for the Charlotte collaboration. CLINIC provides Catholic Charities with an information support line, advocacy support, trainings and webinars at low or no cost.
The other two partners are the Latin American Coalition (LAC) and the Southeast Asian Coalition (SEAC).
Collaborating together, Catholic Charities, LAC and SEAC are reaching out to a diverse immigrant population in the greater Charlotte area. The collaboration has hosted numerous group workshop events to assist eligible permanent residents in their pursuit of citizenship. This effort is possible with dedicated volunteers who generously give their time and talents. Our volunteers include local immigration attorneys as well as volunteers from the immigrant community, parishes, law schools and universities.
The Employment Staff assists refugees obtain employment and become self-sufficient. Upon arrival, refugees receive an orientation to the local work environment. Included in the orientation is an assessment of education, training and work experience. An Employability Plan is developed for each new arrival. Additionally, they receive an explanation of the hiring process and instruction in job seeking and keeping skills. The staff provides ongoing job counseling and assists the refugees in their job search. Potential employers are contacted to develop job opportunities for them. The staff assists the refugees navigate the application and interview process. After they are hired, post employment counseling and ongoing support services are provided to maximize their chances for success and integration into community life.
The Employment Staff works closely with Charlotte Metropolitan area employers to provide workers from a diverse labor pool of skilled and unskilled applicants who are eager to work. They have an excellent work ethic and are determined to succeed. Hiring refugees can reduce turnover rate, enhance quality, improve efficiency and increase production. They are reliable and hard working. Refugees are successfully employed in many area industries including, but not limited to commercial bakeries, food processing, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, recycling, warehouse/distribution and woodworking. Catholic Charities is a member of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and is involved in many chamber events.
All Refugee assessment, screening, referral and placement services are free of charge. Also, the employment staff assists with translation and interpretation services, transportation, new employee orientation and support services after the refugee is hired.
If you are interested in hiring refugees or learning more about the services available, please contact the Employment Staff at 704-370-3285 or 704-370-3257.
Over the past five years, DMSI has had an outstanding relationship with Catholic Charities which has enabled us to provide many opportunities for the Charlotte refugee population. The clients we serve have been extremely pleased with these placements as they have been adaptable, eager and loyal workers with a strong sense of urgency and desire, which is unique in today's labor force. We are proud to be able to offer refugees the chance to start a new life for themselves and their families.
Looking for work in TRANSLATION & INTERPRETATION? Do you meet the following criteria?
Willing to take a language proficiency assessment
Interested in setting your own schedule
Willing to provide proof of interpreter training or complete interpreter training
Prior experience a plus – but not required
Since 1990, the Winston-Salem office of Catholic Charities, formerly known as Casa Guadalupe, has provided quality, professional interpretation services to the Piedmont area. In an effort to continue bridging the language gap between agencies / service providers and the Limited English Proficiency community in our area, the Translation & Interpretation Enterprise (TIE) – a Catholic Charities enterprise - will expand the scope and reach of language services offered in the Winston-Salem area and western NC. TIE is a full service translation and interpretation enterprise, servicing the market with trained, qualified, professional translators and interpreters across a diversity of languages, cultures and areas of expertise. TIE provides language services to non-profit agencies, including Catholic Charities services and programs, and for-profit businesses.
All proceeds support Catholic Charities’ outreach efforts to provide social services to the community in need.