June 20, 2016

Today June 20, we celebrate World Refugee Day to recognize the millions of refugees around the world. These are courageous men, women, and children who have been forced to leave behind their homes in search of safety. Today we want to honor all the refugees around the world and their bravery.

Today also marks Thrive’s five year anniversary! Five years ago we started with one family from the Congo. Since then we’ve worked with over 150 family members through our Cultural Broker Program, helping them as they make their transition to life here in the United States.

Our vision has always been to help refugees flourish and succeed. It can be incredibly difficult to adapt to a new culture and navigate a new system of services. We hope to come alongside refugees to support them in their transition by giving them access to the services they need. We hope to give refugees the opportunities they need to thrive.

Thrive’s work is unique in that we partner with refugees individually to meet their specific needs. Whether they are looking to learn English, they want to learn how to navigate the Grand Rapids bus system, or they need help with paperwork from the Department of Human Services, we are here to meet their specific needs.

As we reflect on the past five years, we look back on some of Thrive’s big milestones:

  • In 2013, after preparing and assisting our client through the citizenship process, we had our first client become a United States citizen! We are currently in the process of assisting another family in the process for citizenship.
  • We had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. in 2013 and meet with legislators to discuss immigration reform.
  • Last year we were able to support our Congolese clients by helping them start their very own worship service. They continue to meet every Sunday at Cornerstone Church in Wyoming.
  • Our most recent milestone has been opening our Refugee Support Center! The center just opened this month, and it will serve as a drop-in center for refugees. They can come in to do things like use a computer or get help with government paperwork. We will also be hosting ESL and Citizenship classes through the center. Our hope is that the Support Center will allow us to serve an even greater population of the refugee community by helping us reach those who are not enrolled in our Cultural Broker Program.

Our work here at Thrive would not be possible without the generous support of our donors and volunteers, so we would like to say thank you to each of you who have been a part of Thrive over the past five years. Here’s to many, many more years to come!

Written by Katie Ulrich

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