Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection to host “Stand with Refugees Night”

The Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connections invites community members to learn more about local refugees.

The Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection (CRIC) will host its second annual “Stand with Refugees Night” on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:00 p.m. in the Little Theater of Mount Logan Middle School (875 N. 200 E.).  Event presenters will share information about the refugee resettlement process, provide an update on CRIC’s current work/future plans and honor outstanding volunteers from the past year.  Members of Cache Valley’s refugee community will also address the audience, sharing their personal stories.

“It’s pretty much a night of education,” said Nelda Ault-Dyslin, president of CRIC’s board of directors. “We’re not too concerned with making this a political event or anything like that. Mostly it’s for people who would like to know more, not only about the refugee resettlement process, but also about local refugees and how they can help, so it’s all about learning.”

Cache Valley’s refugee population is currently estimated to be between 300-400 people. Most are of Burmese ethnicity, which many having lived in refugee camps in Thailand. The next largest group is from Eritrea, a country in East Africa that was formerly part of Ethiopia.  

“We know that there are several Somali families, too,” said Ault-Dyslin. “We don’t know them as well yet, but we’re hoping to create some more connections with their community.”

CRIC also serves a number of refugees living in Cache Valley who are originally from Sudan, but fled to surrounding countries—perhaps for many years—before arriving in the United States.   No matter where they came from, said Ault-Dyslin, most of the individuals and families being served by CRIC are not new U.S. residents, but have been in this country for eight to nine years.

“That definitely doesn’t mean they need any less help,” she said. “The nature of the obstacles changes the longer you stay in the U.S., but the number of them doesn’t change. As the family keeps developing, they have different needs, and we have just not had enough mechanisms for people to receive the help.”

As a result, one of the new services CRIC hopes to launch this year is a family-pairing program designed to create mutually beneficial relationships between established volunteer families in Cache Valley and refugee families who have resettled here.

“Our vision is that families on both sides would apply,” said Ault-Dyslin. “We’d look to see who has similar interests, who has similar goals, who has maybe similar family make-up, and then we would pair them together and come up with an individualized plan.”

As the families serve each other, Ault-Dyslin envisions the program being a tool to improve both families’ lives.

Another of CRIC’s immediate goals is to secure office space.  CRIC is entirely volunteer run and relies on “the good graces” of several organizations to conduct business inside their buildings. The agency would like to find a location of its own in which to centralize operations, house study groups and receive donations.  As CRIC explores options, its most important consideration is the fulfillment of its mission to promote “integration, economic self-sufficiency and positive connections between refugees, immigrants and the wider community.”

“When it comes to refugees, really it’s a story about family and it’s a story about safety,” said Ault-Dyslin. “It’s trying to go to a safe place and also to keep your family together.”

Community members who gather to hear Cache Valley’s refugee stories on Tuesday will also have a last-chance opportunity to support CRIC’s “Orange Fundraiser,” benefiting the new family-pairing program. CRIC is selling a full case of oranges for $40 and a half case for $25, with the fruit arriving in early March.  The <a href=”http://cachefoodpantry.com/”>Cache Community Food Pantry</a> welcomes donations of oranges purchased during the fundraiser that aren’t needed for personal use, and payments will be accepted via cash, check and credit card. More information is available at <a href=”http://www.cacherefugees.org/”>www.cacherefugees.org</a>.

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