Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio welcomes refugees escaping persecution, war and violence in their homelands and empowers them to build new lives and become self-sufficient in a welcoming community. Since 1980, Catholic Charities has resettled thousands of refugees from all over the world in Greater Cincinnati, beginning with refugees from Vietnam during the early years to more recent arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bhutan, Syria and Eritrea as well as Special Immigrant Visa holders from Afghanistan.
The current situation in Afghanistan
Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio is deeply pained by the recent events in Afghanistan. We join with Pope Francis in praying for the day when “the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their homes and live in peace and security in total mutual respect” (Angelus, August 15, 2021).
In 2006, Congress first authorized a bipartisan humanitarian program to provide Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Afghans and Iraqis, which included resettlement services and legal permanent residence for the applicants and their families. The White House has announced the emergency relocation of 30,000-50,000 Afghan SIV applicants. For other displaced Afghan citizens, the journey of dislocation and possible resettlement could take years. For most displaced persons, an abiding hope for eventual peace and return to their home country remains. For those who are resettled as refugees, return is not possible.
How you can help:
Gifts of all sizes are welcome at www.ccswoh.org/donate.
The first step in empowering the lives of refugee families is to support Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio’s Refugee Resettlement Services. Catholic Charities welcomes donations of all sizes to empower our staff and community to provide the essential services of welcoming families and helping them get on their feet and longer term assistance, such as English, job readiness and computer / digital literacy classes.
Volunteers are needed at all levels of time commitment. Explore service opportunities at ccswoh.volunteerhub.com. Help set up housing, welcome families when they arrive, teach classes, mentor youth and young adults, pick up donations, and drive families to and from medical and other appointments.
Advocate and Network:
Stand in solidarity by your voice and participation. We need caring advocates to spread the word and mobilize supporters. Please invite Catholic Charities to share our mission with your group, class or faith community.
Where does Catholic Charities fit into the resettlement process?
Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are admitted to the U.S. for resettlement. National voluntary resettlement agencies, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and their affiliates, are guided by the U.S. Department of State to provide resettlement services that will help refugees gain self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.
As an affiliate of USCCB, newly arrived refugees in Cincinnati receive supportive services from Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement program. This includes:
- Placement in initial furnished housing
- Cultural orientation
- English as a Second Language classes
- Employment assistance
- Connection to initial health screenings and healthcare services
What is a refugee?
Refugees are forced to flee their home country, cross an international border, and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Official refugee status is conferred through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The United Nations and the U.S. allow refugees to have protected status. The U.S. permits them to be here through a special visa. They are then expected to get their permanent residency status (green card) within a year of arrival and apply for citizenship after five years.
Refugees undergo a more rigorous vetting process than any other immigrant allowed into the U.S., a process that takes at least 24 months and includes background and security checks and medical assessments. On average, refugees wait 10 years before they are relocated to a new country. Less than one percent of refugees resettle in another country.
The Resettlement Program:
Refugee Support Services*
Catholic Charities also provides case management and a wide array of services for all
immigrants living in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Refugee Youth Mentoring*
Youth ages 15-24 are matched with a volunteer adult mentor to support their educational and vocational advancement and promote positive civic and social engagement. Mentors provide:
- 1:1 interaction with youth
- Academic support
- Assistance with learning English
- Social activities with youth peers
- Career development
- Introduction to American culture while maintaining and celebrating the youth’s cultural heritage
To become a volunteer mentor, please call (513) 672-3824. Volunteers must be 18 or older and commit to two hours a week for one year. No foreign language skills necessary.
When our refugee resettlement team is notified that a new arrival is scheduled, the most urgent priority is to make sure that a furnished housing unit will be ready for them. If you are a Cincinnati-area landlord who would like to learn more about providing housing for refugee individuals and families, please call us at (513)672-3722.
What would it be like to be forced to leave your home and move to another country? To learn a new language? To learn a new culture?
This is what refugees experience arriving in Cincinnati. Through Cultural Orientation classes, newly arrived refugees become familiar with subjects like the local school systems, transportation systems, shopping centers, local currency, and budgeting, to name a few classes offered. The overall goal is to help refugee individuals and families integrate into our community while maintaining their own culture and heritage.
- Role of the Local Resettlement Agency
- Refugee Status – what that means in the U.S. and what benefits that provides to them; the need to adjust their status to LPR after one year; their eligibility for citizenship after 5 years
- English – importance of learning English and resources for ESOL
- Public Assistance – their eligibility
- U.S. Laws
- Your New Community – learning about Cincinnati
- Budgeting and Personal Finance
- Cultural Adjustment
- Education – school requirements for children
- Transportation – learning how to access and use public transportation
Additional ways in which you can help?
Donate Household Items
We appreciate your support. Donations of gently used or new small household items enable volunteers and staff to set up comfortable homes for new refugee arrivals. If you or your group would like to organize a drive for Household Item donations, or for a general listing of our typical household needs, please click on this link to learn more.
** With many new families arriving, we have an immediate need to purchase beds. **
We can accept gently used twin, full and queen-sized bedframes, but not used mattresses or box springs. We have a relationship to purchase beds at a deep discount. If you would like to donate for this purpose, visit www.ccswoh.org/donate, and indicate “Beds for Refugees” in the Special Instructions. You may also donate generally (“unrestricted”) to the Refugee program, using the Drop-Down Menu. Thank you for helping us meet these critical needs for our new neighbors.
Donate Coats, Hats & Gloves
Regretfully, we cannot accept clothing but do accept coats, hats and gloves. Gently used coats, hats and gloves must be laundered or dry-cleaned.
*Eligibility for Refugee Support Services and Refugee Youth Mentoring includes individuals with Refugee, Asylee or Parolee status; Cuban and Haitian entrants; lawful permanent residents who previously held one of these statuses; Amerasians; Special Immigrant Visa Holders; and Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking.
Eligible recipient includes individuals with original documentation issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) with one of the following statuses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952:
- Refugee: Admitted as a refugee under the INA section 207;
- Asylee: Granted asylum under INA section 208;
- Cuban/Haitian; Cuban and Haitian entrants in accordance with the requirements in 45 CFR 401.2;
- Parolee: Paroled as a refugee or asylee under INA section 212 (d) (5);
- Lawful permanent residents provided the individuals previously held one of the statuses identified above (Note that this does not refer to Amerasians or Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrants, who are admitted as lawful permanent residents);
- Certain Amerasians from Vietnam who are admitted to the United States as immigrants pursuant to Section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988 (as contained in section 101(e) of Public Law (Pub. L.) 100-202), as amended (8 USC 1101 note);
- SW: Special Immigrant Visa Holder from Iraq or Afghanistan per section 1244(g) of Div. Aol Pub. L. 110-181, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1157 note) and section 602(b) (8) of Div. F of Pub. L. 118-8, as amended (8 USC 1101 note);
- Trafficking Victims: Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking as certified by the Office of Refugee Resettlement per the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-386, as amended, 22 USC 7105(b)(1)(A) and (C);