Welcoming the Displaced: Refugee Resettlement in Lane County
Time: 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Venue: First United Methodist Church
1376 Olive Street
Among the newcomers to our community are people referred by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, the official resettlement program of the United States government. Refugees have fled their home country due to persecution. While overseas, they are screened and vetted by the United Nations and/or federal agencies of the United States, a process that typically takes years. If refugees are approved for resettlement in the United States, the International Organization for Migration arranges their travel here. Upon arrival, they are granted “refugee” status–a permanent status offering a pathway to citizenship–and receive resettlement assistance.
In Lane County, Catholic Community Services (CCS) offers immediate help to anyone in need and supports families as they take positive steps to move out of poverty. One of the programs that supports this mission is the Refugee and Immigrant Services Program (RISP). Through an innovative and unique collaboration among local faith-based groups, service organizations, community volunteers, and professional staff, RISP helps neighbors from around the world build successful futures here in Lane County. As a contracted Remote Placement Agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, CCS serves refugees of all faiths, nationalities, and ethnicities.
RISP’s Refugee Resettlement and Asylum Seekers Assistance Programs support refugees, asylum seekers and asylees as they get established in our community. These programs help clients improve their English skills; provide transportation to critical appointments; and support clients’ efforts to obtain employment and find and pay for housing. Since 2016, RISP has resettled 9 immigrants from Syria, El Salvador and Iran. Since October 2021, RISP has resettled 33 individuals from Afghanistan and provided legal and social services to more than 100 people seeking asylum.
Organization: Refugee & Immigration Services Program
Christine Zeller-Powell is an attorney with the Refugee and Immigrant Services Program at Catholic Community Services (CCS) of Lane County. She was a co-founder and long-time volunteer leader of the Refugee Resettlement Coalition of Lane County, a partner of Catholic Community Services in welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum-seekers. She earned BS, MS and JD degrees from the University of Oregon.