World Magazine recently looked into the Somali refugee population in Minnesota and the role communities play in reaching out to and welcoming new Americans. The state is home to 120,000 residents of Somali-descent.
In her article, “Overcoming the Headlines,” reporter Dorothée Moisan discusses how refugees are not always fully welcomed in their new communities. When facing distrust, “It’s difficult to be proud of who you are,” says Shirwa Hersi, a Somali-born former U.S. Marine. However, LIRS, our partners, and countless congregations are working hard to foster a culture of welcome and walk with Somali refugees as they rebuild their lives in the United States.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, along with local Lutheran charities and other groups, has worked to provide assistance and help integrate what’s widely known as one of the most closeted ethnic communities of refugees.
There are many ways to reach out to your neighbors and welcome them into your community. In a sidebar that accompanies the article, World Magazine reporter Kristin Chapman notes a few of these ways, and how Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota, an LIRS partner, supports and welcomes new Americans.
LSS offers refugees financial assistance, family reunification, immigration services, and help securing employment. It works alongside local churches, whose volunteers are helping to secure housing and household supplies, serving as mentors, making quilts for new arrivals, and holding donation drives for items like winter coats and school supplies.
We’re grateful to World Magazine, Moisan, and Chapman for reporting on this issue and ways volunteers can welcome newcomers. Everyone can contribute to their community. If you or your congregation would like more information on how to volunteer with new Americans, sign up here.