Story by Kaitlin Sullivan, Colorado and Wyoming Region, Communication Volunteer
When refugees flee their countries due to persecution, conflict or other life-endangering issues, they often arrive in their new home country with little but the clothes on their backs. They receive a small amount of resettlement assistance, but it doesn't stretch very far.
So the American Red Cross, Lutheran Family Services and American Furniture Warehouse are partnering together to make life a little easier and more welcoming for these refugees who have settled in a strange new land after what is often already a traumatic experience. Earlier this year, the American Red Cross distributed housewarming baskets to relocated refugees who have settled in the Denver-metro area. The 15 baskets contained what Tim Bothe of American Red Cross Colorado & Wyoming calls “standards of care.” The Red Cross housewarming baskets include kitchen utensils, pots and pans, as well as information on how refugees can reconnect with family members through the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program. This program’s services includes tracing which can help locate family members from whom they were separated from as well as Red Cross Messages which foster communication where it may otherwise be impossible.
By assembling these baskets, the Red Cross is supplementing the assistance provided by Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, a refugee resettlement agency that helps families set up a new household in Colorado. When a refugee family is resettled to the US, Lutheran Family Services is summoned at a moment’s notice to provide assistance, despite given little information about the incoming refugees until they have arrived in Denver. Along with providing their own set of services, Lutheran Family Services also delivers the housewarming baskets to the newly arrived refugees.
American Furniture Warehouses is the third partner in the refugee settlement project. The company has donated 20 mattresses to refugee families through this partnership.
On average, nearly 2,000 refugees are relocated to Colorado each year. Efforts such as housewarming baskets filled with “standards of care” and a donation of mattresses are the gestures that help these people overcome the trauma they've experienced and turn over a new leaf in the Centennial State.