Catholic Charities Maine Receives Grant from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to Build Parish Support System for Welcoming Refugees
Portland, ME – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made a $23,870 investment in increasing the role area Catholic parishes play in welcoming and acclimating refugees to life in Maine. The grant was awarded to Catholic Charities Maine’s (CCM) Refugee & Immigrations Services program and will be implemented in coordination with CCM’s Parish Social Ministry (PSM) program.
Over the last three years, PSM has worked with Catholic parishes all over the state to foster love for their neighbors through concrete ministries and projects, such as financial mentoring, clothing closets and nutrition classes. This outreach to new Mainers is a natural extension of that ministry. “Parishes want to know more about the people in their communities- their cultures, how they got here and the experiences they have been through. There is a strong desire to not only know but to get involved and actively welcome and support their new neighbors. This grant will help foster more than just awareness but the beginnings of community,” says Michael Smith, Director of Parish Social Ministry.
The funds are earmarked for three initiatives:
Expansion of the American Friends mentoring program that matches refugee families with volunteers to help them adjust to their new community. Volunteers focus on helping families become acquainted with American life including operating home appliances; navigating public transportation, street signs, traffic signals; introductions to public schools and libraries, the postal system, banking and currency, taxes, and social etiquette.
Increased In Their Shoes experiential workshops offered at area parishes that will be open to the general public at no charge. These interactive trainings engage participants with Catholic Charities Refugee & Immigrant Services staff to actively learn about the refugee process, the populations currently settled in Maine, the services available, and the challenges faced by Maine’s newest arrivals.
Enhanced outreach through parish channels to educate Mainers on the refugee resettlement process and dispel harmful myths that foster xenophobia (intense prejudice or fear of people from other countries) and Islamophobia (prejudice or fear of Islam or Muslims) in Maine.
“We know that successful resettlement depends on the long-term partnership and understanding between refugees and the receiving community,” notes Tarlan Ahmadov Director of Refugee & Immigration Services at Catholic Charities Maine. “By engaging parishes and the individuals and families that make up each parish, we can strengthen the capacity of our program to provide services to refugees and welcome refugees families into more Maine communities,” Ahmadov adds.
Five In Their Shoes trainings are slated to be held in the spring. The workshops are free and open to the general public, though pre-registration is required. FMI contact Tarlan Ahmadov at Catholic Charities Maine Refugee & Immigration Services at 871-7437.
About Catholic Charities Maine
Since 1966, Catholic Charities Maine has provided high-quality, community-based, social services to people of all faiths, beliefs, and economic backgrounds. As one of the largest human service agencies in the state, we are committed to helping children and adults overcome adversity and achieve self-sufficiency. More than .92 of every dollar we receive goes directly to serving our neighbors in need. To learn more, please visit www.ccmaine.org or call 1-800-781-8550.
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