Thursday, November 19, 2015

How you can help refugees coming into the U.S.--Syrian or otherwise

The events and news of the last few months, and specifically of the last few days, regarding refugees and their plight has motivated many people to ask how they can help.

We are tremendously grateful for this outpouring of compassion and desire to take action. The ultimate key to success in the refugee resettlement program is integration. That's a two-way process that must include willing participation from the receiving community.

Since so many have inquired about how to help and what's needed at this time, here is what you can do:

If you live outside of Colorado (we'll list Colorado resources separately), contact your state refugee coordinator. Every state has one and the office should be listed within your state government's online directory. When you are connected, ask which agencies are providing refugee resettlement assistance in your area.

Typically, resettlement agencies and partner programs need new or gently used household goods in good condition such as furniture, towels, sheets, dishes, cooking utensils, lamps(!) and light bulbs, and toiletries. They need employers who are willing to hire refugees, and landlords who will waive traditional requirements for new residents such as credit history or minimum income thresholds. They need volunteers to set up apartments, pick up refugees arriving at the airport, and mentors to help refugee families find their way in a new and unfamiliar culture. Many agencies are looking for good (clean, not damaged or tattered) winter coats, socks, hats, scarves and gloves at this time of year.

All agencies will have volunteer coordinators and donations coordinators who can explain their needs and processes to you.

If you're in Colorado, here is a partial list of organizations that can use your help:
We have two resettlement agencies in our state, ACC and LFS:

Lutheran Family Services: 303-980-5400,  Their Facebook page is here:

African Community Center: 303-399-4500, Their Facebook page is here:
ACC also houses a sewing job training program for recently arrived refugee women. You can find information about We Made This here: and on Facebook,

No One Left Behind works with Afghan and Iraqi families that worked side-by-side with the U.S. military in those countries. Many of the men worked as interpreters, cultural trainers, and liaisons between U.S. military and local groups. In Colorado, contact You can find them on Facebook here:

If you’re interested in helping in the English language program, please visit volunteers can assist in adult ESL classrooms at Emily Griffith Technical College or be one-to-one in-home tutors. You’re probably reading this post on our Facebook page, but if it was forwarded, you can find us at

Project Worthmore works with refugees from Burma who have resettled in the Denver area. They offer a variety of programs, including English classes, a farming project, food bank, dental care and more. You can reach them through their website:  You’ll find them on Facebook here:

Growing Colorado Kids works on a sustainable farming project with refugee youth in the Denver area. The kids learn teamwork, how to grow vegetables using organic techniques, cooking and proper nutrition. There’s always something needed at the farm, including transportation to get the kids there and volunteers  to help keep everything running smoothly. Contact or visit their website at On Facebook:

A Little Something: Denver Refugee Crafts is a crafts collective that works with refugee women in the Denver area. A Little Something participants learn to make jewelry, or to knit or weave. The women earn supplemental income from these projects while building confidence, self-esteem, community, and financial literacy. and on Facebook at

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Buy an LED light bulb from Ikea, help light a refugee camp

Today the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign returns to raise millions of euros for refugees living around the world.

For every LED light bulb purchased in IKEA stores in February and March, the IKEA Foundation will donate €1 to help the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) light refugee camps—making them a safer, more suitable place for the many families who live there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Changes in US relations with Cuba

Today President Obama announced the US government's plan to normalize relations with Cuba. It's far too soon to know how this will impact refugee resettlement/asylum cases coming out of that country. The negotiations leading up to this were ongoing throughout the last year and were facilitated by the Vatican and Canada. Here is the text of the official statement from the White House (also available by clicking here). You can also watch the entire video of President Obama speaking and read the transcript of his statement by clicking here.

FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people.  We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.
It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba.  At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.  Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.
We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.  It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.  We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state.  With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities.  In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.
Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas.  We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people.
Key Components of the Updated Policy Approach:
Since taking office in 2009, President Obama has taken steps aimed at supporting the ability of the Cuban people to gain greater control over their own lives and determine their country’s future.  Today, the President announced additional measures to end our outdated approach, and to promote more effectively change in Cuba that is consistent with U.S. support for the Cuban people and in line with U.S. national security interests.  Major elements of the President’s new approach include:
Establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba-
  • The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions with Cuba on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, which were severed in January 1961.
  • In the coming months, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana and carry out high-level exchanges and visits between our two governments as part of the normalization process.  As an initial step, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs will lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks in January 2015, in Havana.
  • U.S. engagement will be critical when appropriate and will include continued strong support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba and other measures aimed at fostering improved conditions for the Cuban people.
  • The United States will work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern and that advance U.S. national interests, such as migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection, and trafficking in persons, among other issues. 
Adjusting regulations to more effectively empower the Cuban people-
  • The changes announced today will soon be implemented via amendments to regulations of the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce.   Our new policy changes will further enhance our goal of empowering the Cuban population.
  • Our travel and remittance policies are helping Cubans by providing alternative sources of information and opportunities for self-employment and private property ownership, and by strengthening independent civil society. 
  • These measures will further increase people-to-people contact; further support civil society in Cuba; and further enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.  Persons must comply with all provisions of the revised regulations; violations of the terms and conditions are enforceable under U.S. law.
Facilitating an expansion of travel under general licenses for the 12 existing categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law-
  • General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the following existing categories: (1) family visits; (2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3) journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9) humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines. 
  • Travelers in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such services. 
  • The policy changes make it easier for Americans to provide business training for private Cuban businesses and small farmers and provide other support for the growth of Cuba’s nascent private sector.  Additional options for promoting the growth of entrepreneurship and the private sector in Cuba will be explored.
Facilitating remittances to Cuba by U.S. persons-
  • Remittance levels will be raised from $500 to $2,000 per quarter for general donative remittances to Cuban nationals (except to certain officials of the government or the Communist party); and donative remittances for humanitarian projects, support for the Cuban people, and support for the development of private businesses in Cuba will no longer require a specific license.
  • Remittance forwarders will no longer require a specific license.
Authorizing expanded commercial sales/exports from the United States of certain goods and services-
  • The expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector.  Items that will be authorized for export include certain building materials for private residential construction, goods for use by private sector Cuban entrepreneurs, and agricultural equipment for small farmers.  This change will make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.
Authorizing American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba-
  • Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.
Facilitating authorized transactions between the United States and Cuba-
  • U.S. institutions will be permitted to open correspondent accounts at Cuban financial institutions to facilitate the processing of authorized transactions.
  • The regulatory definition of the statutory term “cash in advance” will be revised to specify that it means “cash before transfer of title”; this will provide more efficient financing of authorized trade with Cuba.
  • U.S. credit and debit cards will be permitted for use by travelers to Cuba.
  • These measures will improve the speed, efficiency, and oversight of authorized payments between the United States and Cuba.
Initiating new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate freely-
  • Cuba has an internet penetration of about five percent—one of the lowest rates in the world.  The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is exorbitantly high, while the services offered are extremely limited.
  • The commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people in the United States and the rest of the world will be authorized.  This will include the commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices, related software, applications, hardware, and services, and items for the establishment and update of communications-related systems.
  •  Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services, which will improve telecommunications between the United States and Cuba.
Updating the application of Cuba sanctions in third countries-
  • U.S.-owned or -controlled entities in third countries will be generally licensed to provide services to, and engage in financial transactions with, Cuban individuals in third countries.  In addition, general licenses will unblock the accounts at U.S. banks of Cuban nationals who have relocated outside of Cuba; permit U.S. persons to participate in third-country professional meetings and conferences related to Cuba; and, allow foreign vessels to enter the United States after engaging in certain humanitarian trade with Cuba, among other measures.
Pursuing discussions with the Cuban and Mexican governments to discuss our unresolved maritime boundary in the Gulf of Mexico-
  • Previous agreements between the United States and Cuba delimit the maritime space between the two countries within 200 nautical miles from shore.  The United States, Cuba, and Mexico have extended continental shelf in an area within the Gulf of Mexico where the three countries have not yet delimited any boundaries.
  • The United States is prepared to invite the governments of Cuba and Mexico to discuss shared maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Mexico.
Initiating a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism-
  • The President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch such a review, and provide a report to the President within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism.  Cuba was placed on the list in 1982.
Addressing Cuba’s participation in the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama-
  • President Obama will participate in the Summit of the Americas in Panama.  Human rights and democracy will be key Summit themes.  Cuban civil society must be allowed to participate along with civil society from other countries participating in the Summit, consistent with the region’s commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.  The United States welcomes a constructive dialogue among Summit governments on the Summit’s principles. 
Unwavering Commitment to Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Society
A critical focus of our increased engagement will include continued strong support by the United States for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba.  The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of people to freely determine their future.   Our efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state.
The U.S. Congress funds democracy programming in Cuba to provide humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and support the free flow of information in places where it is restricted and censored.  The Administration will continue to implement U.S. programs aimed at promoting positive change in Cuba, and we will encourage reforms in our high level engagement with Cuban officials.
The United States encourages all nations and organizations engaged in diplomatic dialogue with the Cuban government to take every opportunity both publicly and privately to support increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.
Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms.  That is why President Obama took steps to increase the flow of resources and information to ordinary Cuban citizens in 2009, 2011, and today.  The Cuban people deserve the support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Let's go to the movies!

Dear Supporters of Education & Opportunity,

Emily Griffith Technical College has one of the largest and longest-standing programs serving refugees and immigrants in the state. Now we are devoting a 3-day film festival to the refugee and immigrant experience.
  • Location: SIE Film Center, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, Denver
  • DatesOctober 10, 11 and 12
  • About: Powerful films featuring immigrants and refugees. Themes are moving, fun, uplifting and highlight the strength of the human spirit. With an array of stories and tickets starting at $15, you're sure to find a film that inspires you, all while supporting a great cause: providing opportunity for education at Emily Griffith Technical College.
  • More Information: Go to
Each program is more than just a film. The 3-day event will also include expert panels, music, opening & closing night receptions and appearances from directors and stars of some of the films.
The best way to support this fundraiser! The festival will consist of five programs over the course of three days. Experience stories of tragedy, hope, love, and celebration of culture. 
To purchase passes and learn about the perks of each pass, click here.
Producer Pass - All Access + VIP: $145 
Buy your Producer Pass today -- it is the only way to get into the exclusive opening night pre-reception with a tequila tasting, food and a chance to chat with the two student subjects from Underwater Dreams.
Date: Friday, October 10, 2014

VIP pre-reception (Producer Passholders ONLY) 5:30pm
Film presentation + post film reception 7:00pm

Film: Underwater Dreams Link to trailer
An epic story of how the sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned how to build an underwater robot from Home Depot parts. Then defeat engineering powerhouse MIT in the process.
Program: Opening night is more than a film - it's an all out celebration! Details Here.
Ticket Price: $80 (a portion is tax-deductible)
Click here to purchase your ticket.
Date: Saturday, October 11, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Films: Refugee Kids, Finding Home, Americano, Emily Griffith Film Student Film
This series of short films tells the touching stories of immigrants and refugees who find opportunity through education. 
Program: The shorts program will be accompanied by a wonderufl panel. Details Here.
Ticket Price: $15 (a portion is tax-deductible)
Click here to purchase your ticket.
Date: Saturday, October 11, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

Film: The Beekeeper (Der Imker) Link to trailer
A touching story of Ibrahim Gezer. The turmoil of the Turkish-Kurdish war has taken everything away from him: his wife and children, his home and his five hundred colonies of bees.
Program: The film on Saturday night will be followed with a special guest that is to be announced. Details Here.
Ticket Price: $15 (a portion is tax-deductible)
Click here to purchase your ticket.
Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014, 4:30 p.m.

Film: The Last Survivor Link to trailer
This award-winning film presents the stories of four genocide survivors (Holocaust, Darfur, Congo & Rwanda) and their struggles to make sense of tragedy by working to educate a new generation, inspire tolerance and spark a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. 
Program: The Sunday matinee will be followed by a thought-provoking panel. Details here.
Ticket Price: $15 (a portion is tax-deductible)
Click here to purchase your ticket.
Date: Sunday, October 12, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Film: We Came Home Link to trailer
Ariana Delawari tells the story of her father's homeland through photographs, film and music. She experiences the firsthand threat of war and corruption when her father is arrested and unexpectedly realizes why her father could never abandon his people in Afghanistan. 
Program: Ariana Delawari will join us for a discussion and live music! Details Here.
Ticket Price: $30 (a portion is tax-deductible)
Click here to purchase your ticket.
Group Discounts: Save when you purchase 10 tickets or more! Purchase tickets for your group by clicking here.

- $70 for Opening Night Party / Underwater Dreams
- $10 for Shorts Program, The Beekeeper, and The Last Survivor
- $25 for Closing Night Party / We Came Home
Sponsored by

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Our school is on the move!

Over the course of late July/Early August 2014, Emily Griffith Technical College will be moving to a new facility. We aren't moving far. The Language Learning Center will be in its new location and open for business of Tuesday, August 5.

Emily Griffith Technical College
1860 Lincoln St. Room 427
Denver, CO 80203

Our volunteer coordinator's phone number remains the same: 720-423-4843.

The summer session will end on Thursday, July 31. Students return and classes resume on Monday, August 25, after the move and summer break.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The US Refugee Resettlement Program is in jeopardy

Please let our members of Congress know that they must take action quickly to stop the reprogramming of $94 million in the 2014 budget by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, to resettle refugees and divert them to providing shelter for the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border. More background information follows at the end of this post, after the legislative contact information.

Call you senator and representative today:
- Michael Bennet (303) 455-7600; (202) 224-5852
- Mark Udall (303)-650-7820; (202) 224-5941

- Diana DeGette (303) 844-4988; (202) 225-4431

- Jared Polis (303) 484-9596; (202) 225-2161

- Scott Tipton (970) 259-1563; (202) 225-4761

- Cory Gardner (970) 351-6068; (202) 225-4676

- Doug Lamborn (719) 520-0055; (202) 225-4422

- Mike Coffman (720) 748-7514; (202) 225-7882

- Ed Perlmutter (303) 274-7944; (202) 225-2645

U.S. Senators for Colorado
Michael Bennet (D)
Year of Next Election: November 1, 2016
Denver Metro Office
Washington, DC Office
1127 Sherman St., Suite 150
Denver, Colorado 80203
Phone: (303) 455-7600
Toll Free: (866) 455-9866
458 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5852

Mark Udall (D)
Year of Next Election: November 4, 2014
Denver Metro Office
Washington, DC Office
999 18th Street
Suite 1525, North Tower
Denver, CO 80202
P: 303-650-7820
730 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5941

U.S. Representatives for Colorado
1-Diana DeGette (D)
1st District ( Denver, Englewood, Littleton, Columbine, Ken Caryl, Glendale, Cherry Hills Village, and Sheridan
Denver Office
Washington, DC Office
600 Grant Street, Suite 202
Denver, CO 80203-3525
Phone: (303) 844-4988
2368 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4329
Phone: (202) 225-4431

2-Jared Polis (D)
2nd District ( Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Eagle, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson, Larimer, Summit, and Park counties
Local Offices
Washington, DC Office
Fort Collins Office
300 E. Horsetooth Rd. #103
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Phone: (970) 226-1239

Boulder Office
4770 Baseline Rd, #220
Boulder, CO 80303
Phone: (303) 484-9596

Frisco Office
P.O. Box 1453
Frisco, CO 80443
Phone: (970) 409-7301
1433 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2161 

3-Scott Tipton (R)
3rd District ( Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, La Plata, Lake, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, San Miguel counties
Local Offices
Washington, DC Office
609 Main St., #105 Box 11
Alamosa, CO 81101
Phone: (719) 587-5105
Fax: (719) 587-5137
835 E. Second Avenue, Suite 230
Durango, CO 81301
Phone: (970) 259-1490
Fax: (970) 259-1563
225 North 5th St., Suite 702
Grand Junction, CO 81501
Phone: (970) 241-2499
Fax: (970) 241-3053
503 N. Main Street, Suite 658
Pueblo, CO 81003
Phone: (719) 542-1073
Fax: (719) 542-1127
PO Box 774932
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
Phone: 970-640-9718
218 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4761

4-Cory Gardner (R)
4th District ( Castle Rock, Parker, Firestone, Dacono, Frederick, Longmont, Greeley
Local Offices
Washington, DC Office
7505 Village Square Dr. Suite 207
Castle Rock, CO 80108
Phone: (720) 508-3937
Fax: (720) 583-0873
2425 35th Ave., Suite 202
Greeley, CO 80634
Phone: (970) 351-6007
Fax: (970) 351-6068
408 North Main Street, Suite F, P.O. Box 104
Rocky Ford, CO 81067
Phone: (719) 316-1101
Fax: (719) 316-1103
529 N. Albany, Suite 1220
Yuma, Colorado 80759
Phone: (970) 848-2845
213 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4676

5-Doug Lamborn (R)
5th District ( Chaffee, El Paso, Fremont, Park, and Teller counties
Local Office
Washington, DC Office
1125 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 330
Colorado Springs, CO  80920
Phone: (719) 520-0055
2402 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515
Phone: (202) 225-4422

6-Mike Coffman (R)
6th District ( Aurora, Brighton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Littleton
Aurora Office
Washington, DC Office
3300 S. Parker Road
Cherry Creek Place IV Suite #305
Aurora, CO 80014
Phone: 720.748.7514
Rayburn House Office Building
Room 2443
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.7882

7-Ed Perlmutter (D)
7th District ( Adams and Jefferson Counties (north and west Denver suburbs)
Denver Office
Washington, DC Office
12600 West Colfax Avenue, Suite B-400
Lakewood, CO 80215
Phone: 303.274.7944
1410 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.2645