Friday, June 17, 2011

We kick off World Refugee Day in a delicious way

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Okay, let’s get the food report out of the way upfront.
I promise I’m not trying to make you jealous, but as I write this, I’m finishing up a plate of West African ground peanut stew, green curry rice and Ethiopian veggies, cooked by our volunteer chef Carol Tavris.
As is the case with all Refugee Center events, she cooks a blockbuster spread to reflect the clients of the Refugee Center. She even brought a mini-flag for each country where a refugee is from and topped all of the cupcakes with the flag of a country that accepts refugees. Amazing!
But, besides bringing together refugees, staff, volunteers and community members to chow down, the luncheon had a purpose. Monday is World Refugee Day and marks the kick-off of the Refugee Center’s “Do 1 Thing Campaign,” which was revealed at the luncheon to refugees, volunteers and community partners.
The idea behind the campaign is simple: we can all do more, even once, to help a refugee start a new life.
“For those of us who are born and raised here, we often take for granted what we have in America,” said Ed Orzechowski, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, addressing a roomful of current and past Refugee Center clients, volunteers and community partners. “Your struggles to overcome much and restart, leaving behind everything, inspires us. I thank you for being part of our family.”
The one act (which, honestly, we hope leads to one more, and one more, and so on) could be offering one job interview, offering to spend one semester teaching English or making one donation to the cause.
“I know today a lot of you in this room are refugees,” said Jennie Murray, with the Refugee Center. “But you can do one thing for yourself and someone else and make a difference as well. Just one thing to help.”
Through April, the Refugee Center had served more than 340 individuals in its intensive 10-week employment training and cultural orientation program “Job Club.” It also helps to place the graduates into work. Still, with more than 10 million refugees worldwide, the work has only just begun.
“You are strong. You are courageous. You are an asset to the United States and I want you to know you are welcome here in your new home,” said Jeanne Atkinson, senior program manager for the Refugee Center.
So, the question is, are you ready to “Do 1 Thing” for a refugee? Find out how to get involved here. If so, you’ll start getting invitations to join us for lunch cooked by Carol Tavris!