Saturday, February 28, 2009

Welcome to America

There is really no shortage of media coverage about good people doing extraordinary things. I make a point of watching the last five minutes of the national news every Friday night--any broadcast network will do--because those few minutes of the week highlight the contributions of normal people making a remarkable difference in the world.

CNN devotes a whole year of stories to this concept, culminating in distinguishing honors for a group of ten people every year. Not all are from the U.S., but most are. The reason I mention the geography comes from a bit of frustration I tend to harbor. In the course of the year, the volunteer coordinators in the Colorado Refugee Network attend nonprofit fairs throughout the metro area. When people approach our booth for information about our programs, we are frequently asked the same question: "Do you have volunteer positions overseas?" Or, with a measure of disappointment, "Oh. So, you only help people who are here?"

All three of us are quick to point out that a refugee arriving on American shores has just begun a whole new struggle. There are plenty of ways to contribute to world peace and international relations right here in the town where you live. Many people are surprised to find out refugees are here at all. If you aren't aware of their presence, it's because they're often all but invisible...Except to those of us who devote our waking hours to this particular cause.

Even those who are familiar with the refugee resettlement program are often unaware of just how truly grassroots most of the programs are. Our programs cannot exist without community support, church partnerships, devoted teachers, tutors for adults and kids, mentors, first friends, a small army of volunteers, plus all of the people who donate money, furniture, household goods, and time setting up apartments and taking refugees to their many appointments. Refugee resettlement works because it takes a community to welcome a new one to the mix, and communities have a way of knowing what to do.

One of CNN's 2009 Heroes is Carolyn Manning of Phoenix, Arizona. I'll say this for CNN: The network has consistently shown a commitment to telling the story of refugees and the resettlement process. That Ms. Manning was chosen to be honored by CNN this year is one more example of CNN's understanding that this work matters.

Carolyn Manning started an organization called The Welcome to America Project. Her program assists newly arrived refugees by furnishing apartments and providing support and guidance in the time immediately after arrival. To find out more about The Welcome to America Project and Carolyn Manning, click here to visit CNN's Website. This link takes you to an entire web page with videos dedicated to this topic.

Congratulations to Carolyn Manning and her team of volunteers. They do the same work as many other people assisting refugees throughout the U.S., so as a 2009 CNN Hero, Ms. Manning carries the torch for all of you who volunteer your time and open your hearts to refugee newcomers every day. To the volunteers in the CRESL program and others like it, congratulations to you, too, for your fine work! You are all my heroes every day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Inservice training rescheduled!

Open to all CRESL Tutors (even those on hiatus)

Saturday, April 4
10:00 a.m.
Emily Griffith Opportunity School

So far, two presenters are confirmed and they will teach about:
  • Lesson planning: Effective lesson planning suited to in-home tutoring will be explained, as well as how to incorporate and revisit lesson material throughout all activities in a session. Cayenna Johnson, CRESL instructor

  • Getting started speaking & Language lessons without literacy: How do you help someone learn to speak English now when she has no familiarity with the language and no experience with printed materials? Conversation strategies, vocabulary building, and person-to-person activities will be included. Information can be adapted for higher-level students. Kate Goodspeed, CRESL instructor

We hope to add two more sessions, so watch this blog for updates!
RSVP by March 31.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

At a later date...

Inservice training postponed

Sorry about that. There has been a problem coordinating with presenters and their schedules. We can't have a training session with no one to teach it!

Watch this space for the new date and topic.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

African Extravaganza!

The African Community Center and the University of Denver present
African Extravaganza 2009
February 18th-20th
University of Denver
Driscoll Hall

Voices of Refugees
Wednesday, February 18th, 6pm – 9pm
Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall, 2000 E. Asbury Ave.

Hear the extraordinary and powerful stories of a diverse group of refugees who will share personal narratives of flight and refuge. Refugees from Iraq, Bhutan and Congo will give insights into the challenges and triumphs of living as a refugee and being resettled in the United States, and of joining a new community and finding new hope.

Kutaiba Abdulmahdi from Iraq will speak about his work with the US government during the war in Iraq and his subsequent resettlement in the United States.

MacGoddins Lushimba from Congo will talk about his advocacy efforts to bring awareness of refugee issues in Congo and throughout the world.

The Dhakal Family from Bhutan will paint an intergenerational picture of life between their two nations: Bhutan and Nepal, and 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal.

African Extravaganza
Friday, February 20th, 6pm-9pm
Driscoll Ballroom, 2055 East Evans Ave.
Take part in a night of delicious food, an international marketplace, and extraordinary singing, dancing and drumming by African performers! Meals will be available, for purchase from Café Africana (Ethiopian food), Marrakesh (Moroccan food), and the Palava (Pan-African food). A Little Something will be there selling our handmade jewelry and weaving!
Suggested Donation: $5

Photography Exhibit
February 18th – 20th
Peruse the photo exhibit in the Gallery at Driscoll Center.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dentists Across Colorado Give Kids a Smile by Providing Free Dental Care

Every February the Colorado Dental Association organizes the statewide Give Kids a Smile Day program – a program that offers FREE dental care to low-income families without dental insurance or the ability to afford dental care. This program is in its seventh year and was created to provide free dental treatment and education to qualifying kids and to draw attention to the struggle that many families face when trying to obtain basic dental care. It also lets legislators know that these kids deserve a better health care system.

Give Kids a Smile Day is Friday, February 6, 2009. Participating dental offices across the State are in need of qualifying kids to treat for this program. There are still 300 appointment slots available throughout the state. The majority of the appointments, however, are in the metro area, including Aurora, Boulder, Centennial, Denver, Englewood, Lafayette, Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Louisville, and Thornton. Click here for a list of specific offices and their contact information to make appointments.

The Colorado Dental Association would LOVE your help in communicating this opportunity to families.

Please remember that appointments are first-come, first-served, so the sooner families can call, the better. When making an appointment, the caller should say that he/she is "calling to make an appointment for Give Kids a Smile Day." Please note that only a limited number of appointment slots are available.

NOTE: To qualify, families must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Be low-income and/or a part of the free and reduced lunch program.
  • Be dentally uninsured (no insurance or CHP+ coverage).
  • Unable to afford dental care.
For more detailed information, please call Molly Pereria at 303-996-2844 (please do not have patients call).