Samaritas, the Detroit-based statewide health and human services organization that operates one of Michigan’s largest refugee resettlement programs, has launched the Detroit Refugee Network (DRN), which will provide support services to refugees from Afghanistan and other nations as they resettle in Detroit.
Co-chaired by Kelli Dobner, chief advancement officer at Samaritas, and Dr. Sonia Hassan, Detroit’s first lady, the DRN will serve clients of three resettlement agencies: Samaritas, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan (CCSEM) in a coordinated effort.
DRN is seeking $1.13 million to provide refugees in Detroit with a full range of services, including housing, education, transportation, legal service support, ESL learning opportunities, utility assistance, and employment services. Donations can be made here.
“Thanks to the partnership and vision of the city of Detroit, we are going to be able to help more refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere become more acclimated Detroiters more quickly so they can thrive in their new community,” says Dobner. “Our aim is to place more than 250 individuals in Detroit, more than in any other single city in Michigan. We know this will be a welcoming city for them.”
DRN has received nearly $50,000 in donations from its partner, Care USA, which has joined the effort to provide needed cash payments up to $1,000 to refugee families who have resettled in Detroit, helping to fill in the gaps that government assistance does not cover.
“As the daughter of Egyptian immigrants, I have witnessed how my parents’ drive, passion, and determination led to the American dream after starting from nothing,” says Hassan. “The Detroit Refugee Network is helping families to embark on new lives in the City of Detroit. I am deeply committed and honored to be a part of this cause.”
The DRN focuses on a set of priorities designed for families to succeed, thrive, and stay in Detroit:
- Immediate placement in affordable permanent housing on the road to home ownership.
- Basic needs, safety, and legal services.
- Access to health care and family wellness.
- Employment programs.
- Cultural and social education.
- Education and school integration.
- Faith community partners.
- Based on Samaritas’ decades of service to refugees from around the world, more than 75 percent of refugees are self-sufficient within 180 days.
DRN will also see additional capacity through workforce support coordinated by the Rocket Community Fund, with seven team members embedded within Samaritas as part of the DRN, representing a $750,000 in-kind donation. These team members will help identify and execute housing opportunities, manage relationships with landlords, monitor inventory leads, coordinate move-ins and assist with job placement once refugees are settled into housing.
“These families have left everything behind and are starting over in an unfamiliar environment,” says Ryan Shepard, associate vice president of U.S. programs at CARE U.S. “Imagine fleeing your home and now worrying about providing your family with everything from shelter, food, and education. We hope providing this extra cash, as CARE does in other humanitarian emergencies globally, will make the adjustment a little easier for these families arriving in Detroit and beyond.”