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Legislature to Honor Catholic Social Services at Alaska’s World Refugee Day

Ceremony tomorrow, Friday, June 22 from 4-7pm

On Friday, June 22, Alaska will celebrate World Refugee Day at an event sponsored by Catholic Social Services from 4-7 at Mountain View Lions Park.  The event will feature speakers and entertainers from Alaska’s refugee community.  At the event Representative Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) will present a citation passed by both houses of the Alaska State Legislature honoring Catholic Social Services for its work with refugees.

World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations to honor the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Most people in America do not realize that there are over 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world.  In recent years Alaska has become home to a growing number of world refugees, contributing greatly to our state’s diversity.

The Twenty-seventh Alaska State Legislature is proud to recognize Catholic Social Services for its significant commitment to compassionately serving the poor and those in need, to strengthening individuals and families, and to advocating for social justice.

“I am honored to recognize Catholic Social Services for its outstanding commitment to people in need throughout our community and state,” said  Rep. Gardner, who represents Midtown Anchorage and was prime sponsor of the citation,

Catholic Social Services has a long and solid track record of providing emergency shelter for adult men and women; help for homeless or troubled teenage boys to live independently and achieve academic success; intense case management for homeless families; emergency 24-hour shelter for women with children and expectant mothers; pregnancy support and adoption services; special needs services for those with developmental disabilities; emergency food assistance through St. Francis House; as well as many other critical community programs.

According to the citation, “Nowhere is CSS’s social commitment more exemplified than through its Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS). RAIS has provided a sturdy bridge for refugees to acquire the skills required for success in the United States, most of whom who have had to flee their countries of origin due to the tragedies of persecution and war. The program has provided critical lifestyle training to ensure refugees can sustainably support themselves on a long-term basis.”

In FY 2011, RAIS assisted and trained 548 refugees and immigrants in making the substantial lifestyle adjustments to obtain a more secure financial future and to become socially connected citizens. Over the years, RAIS has offered a wide range of bilingual and bicultural services including case management, life skills orientation and job readiness classes that have produced outstanding results.

In 2011, 75% of all employable adults engaged in RAIS were gainfully employed, and 95% of these retained their initial employment for more than three months. By the end of their first year in Alaska, on average 78% of the refugee families no longer relied on public assistance.

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