Jump-Start in Michigan: Restoring Family Links in the Mitten State

Story by Daniel Kim, International Services and SAF Associate, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Michigan, the mitten state, is a state with some of the highest reconnecting families needs in the United States. It resettles the fourth largest number of refugees in the US each year, a population often in need of these services. After having a huge Restoring Family Links (RFL) Casework Training in Michigan on May 12th, 2015, we have adequate capacities in every chapter and office in Michigan Region to help reconnect separated families. In Michigan, there are 6 chapters: Northern Michigan, Southwest Michigan, West Michigan, East Michigan, Southeast Michigan, and East Central Bay and each chapter has 3-4 different offices. Thus, you can easily find and contact the American Red Cross across the state of Michigan.  

Since last year, Mary VanderGoot, Restoring Family Links Mentor, and I have started setting up the RFL Development Plan. This six-part series will discuss our plans to ensure that every family in Michigan separated from loved ones internationally knows about our reconnecting families service and is able to access it. 

By this month, we will have six Restoring Family Links teams in every chapter in Michigan. The teams are composed of 4-6 members and they are mainly working for Restoring Family Links casework and community outreach. This includes reaching out to other Red Crossers to ensure everyone is aware of this service (which we call in-reach). Through these teams, we seek to increase the number of caseworkers and support volunteers within each chapter's offices. The 6 teams will have monthly teleconferencing meetings so that all teams can move through this development at the same time and at the same pace.

The mitten state is ready to jump-start our Restoring Family Links program. With our six Restoring Family Links Teams, we will "feed two birds with one hand" and develop both casework and outreach across the state of Michigan! The next story of Jump-Start RFL series will be about the Restoring Family Links In-Reach. Please stay tuned!!!