Refugee Services

Catholic Charities’ Refugee Services Program has been assisting refugees since the early 1940s, helping more than 10,000 people make Oregon their new home. Over the last three years we have resettled over 1,200 refugees. Catholic Charities is one of only three refugee resettlement agencies in the state of Oregon that provides resettlement services.

Through its Refugee Services Program, Catholic Charities assists individuals and families that must leave their homelands due to the fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and/or political opinion. The services offered through our resettlement programs address a wide array of needs, ranging from initial resettlement to long-term, intensive case management. We promote successful integration into American society while maintaining the respect and dignity of each individual and his/her/their unique culture and traditions.

Newly arriving refugees are greeted at the airport and begin working with program staff work to meet their essential needs, including safe and affordable housing, furnishings, food, and clothing to take the first steps on the path to rebuilding their lives. Case managers also coordinate referrals to other service providers, community organizations, and schools. Catholic Charities ensures that refugees are properly resettled and connected to necessary services in Oregon, including health care, job training, English language instruction, and other public benefits. In addition to physical items and support, case managers provide psycho-social care as clients work through the cultural transition to the United States, process often traumatic life experiences, and prepare for their new futures in Oregon.

Refugees have endured great hardship—sometimes for many years—before they arrive in the United States. Often they have fled war and persecution and were forced to leave a full life behind, including family, friends, and most of their possessions. Meeting their basic needs and providing initial services lays the foundation for refugees to achieve self-sufficiency once again.

Refugee Services depends on volunteers and donations to make our program a success. Volunteers are a bridge to the community and provide a connection for clients that lasts far beyond the resettlement service period. Donations allow us to offer food, clothing, and other furnishings for families’ new homes. Please consider making a gift or donation today.

Who We Serve

The Refugee Services Program assists individuals and families who have been identified by the UNHCR and the US government to qualify for refugee status, meaning the refugees have been forced to flee their home country to escape persecution, war, or violence. We specifically fulfill contracts with the Department of State (Reception & Placement) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, in partnership with the State of Oregon (Extended Case Management), to help our clients on the path to self-sufficiency.

Our refugee clients come to us through a partnership with the Department of State and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). USCCB is the voluntary agency at the national level that facilitates resettlement efforts and assigns cases to our program. Through our programming we are able to serve refugees, asylees, and Trafficking Victim Visa (T-Visa) and Special Immigration Visa (SIV) holders.

  • Refugees apply for and receive refugee status in their host country and are referred by the International Office of Migration (IOM) to the U.S. for resettlement. After intense screening by the US government, eligible refugees are then assigned to one of the nine voluntary agencies who work with national affiliate offices to resettle them throughout the United States.
  • Asylees are eligible for the same public benefits as refugees, but they travel to the U.S. on their own and then apply for and receive their asylum status once they arrive in the US.
  • SIV holders, after receiving status from the United States government, come to the US either through the IOM or on their own and receive the same benefits as refugees. SIVs are only available to persons who worked with the US Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • We also serve clients who hold T-Visas through the Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP), which supports foreign-born victims of severe forms of trafficking, including derivative family members and minor children of victims.
How can I refer a client to Catholic Charities?

Click here to email the refugee services team and please include the following information:

  • Client contact information (name, phone number, e-mail)
  • Client’s preferred language for contact
  • Refugee case number if applicable
  • Current status (refugee, SIV, asylee, victim of trafficking, etc.)
  • How long client has been in the US
  • From which program he/she/they seek services (see “How We Serve” section)
  • Learn more about refugees and the refugee resettlement process by exploring our FAQ.

For more information, please visit our referral information page.

How we serve

For refugees, asylees, and SIV holders
  • Catholic Charities provides resettlement services that can include airport welcome, case management, housing and furnishing support, food assistance, cultural orientation, and applications or referrals to relevant services through the Department of Human Services (DHS), Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), and the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).
  • For eligible clients, we offer the Preferred Communities Program, which provides culturally sensitive counseling, peer support, and case management to those who have experienced trauma or need extra support to achieve self-sufficiency.
  • For individuals or families who have not yet received their Asylum Approval Notification, we encourage them to reach out to Immigration Legal Services.
For loved ones of refugees abroad
  • Our Immigration Legal Services department can provide support in helping refugees and asylees complete legal paperwork to help their close relatives (spouse, parent, or unmarried child) come to the US as refugees or asylees.
  • We can offer investigation into current cases abroad (limited information available).
For victims of trafficking
  • We provide services including but not limited to needs assessments, service coordination, financial support, referrals to legal services, and assistance with housing, food, clothing, health care, safety planning, transportation, and other public benefits.

Volunteer with us

Refugee Services depends on volunteers and donations to make our program a success. Volunteers are a bridge to the community and a connection that lasts far beyond the resettlement service period. Donations allow us to offer food, clothing, and furnishings for their new home. Interested in volunteering with Refugee Services? Check out our list of opportunities on our volunteer page!

Support the program by scrolling down to our list of in-kind needs or by making a gift today.

Program Leadership

Matthew Westerbeck, Director of Refugee Services
Fowzia Abdulle, Case Manager Supervisor

Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugees

Referral information

Catholic Charities provides services to individuals and families with qualifying statuses through federal- and state-funded programs. Below is a list of programs currently provided and which populations are eligible to receive services.

Reception & Placement Services (R&P)

Only refugee and SIV statuses are eligible for this program. 

The R&P Program focuses on initial resettlement, including airport welcome, case management, housing and furnishing support, food assistance, school enrollment, cultural orientation, and applications/referrals to relevant services through DHS, IRCO, and MCC.

  • Client must have refugee or SIV status officially granted, with documentation present.
  • Client must not have received resettlement services from another resettlement agency.
  • Client must have entered the US within the last 30 days.
  • Services are rendered for up to 90 days after the date of US arrival.
 Extended Case Management (ECM)

The ECM Program works closely with Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS) to provide extended case management services to assist refugees, and other qualifying statuses, access public benefits, navigate healthcare, connect to housing resources, and move towards self-sufficiency.

  • Client must have documentation present confirming their status (Refugee, Asylee, SIV, TVAP, or Cuban or Haitian Entrant) and must have been in the US for less than 60 months (5 years).
  • If victim of trafficking, client must have received their stamped certification from HHS (Health and Human Services) and must have been in the US for less than 60 months (5 years).
  • Services can be rendered up to 2 years, as long as the individual or family is still within 5 years of their US Arrival date.
Match Grant Program (MG)

The MG Program is an employment services program that works with recently arrived/approved clients to quickly find jobs and access English language classes to work towards becoming self-sufficient.

  • Client must have refugee, asylee, TVAP or SIV status officially granted, with documentation present.
  • Client must have entered the US, or received their qualifying status, within the last 30-90 days (depending on status), and cannot be receiving similar services from another provider.
  • Services can be rendered for up to 6-months.
Preferred Communities (PC)

The PC Program focuses on working with vulnerable refugee populations, to help them adjust to the US and work towards self-sufficiency.  Services are provided through one-on-one intensive case management and through culturally specific support groups.

  • Client must have documentation present confirming their status (Refugee, Asylee or SIV) and must have been in the US for less than 60 months (5 years).
  • Client must be an individual who has been identified as vulnerable or at-risk in regards to their self-sufficiency and/or adjustment to the US.
  • Services can be rendered up to 1 year, as long as the individual or family is still within 5 years of their US Arrival date.
Trafficking Victim Assistance Program (TVAP)

TVAP provides victims of trafficking with case management services, including resource connections, temporary financial assistance, and referrals to other services as needed.

    • Client must be foreign born, living in the US, and identify as a victim of trafficking seeking their T-Visa.
    • If they have received their stamped certification from HHS, the date must be less than 1 year ago.
    • Services can be rendered up to 1 year.
How do I refer a client to Catholic Charities?

Click here to send an e-mail to our refugee team, and please include the following information:

  • Client contact information (name, phone number, e-mail, and county of current residence)
  • Client’s preferred language
  • Refugee case number if applicable / known
  • Current status (refugee, SIV, asylee, victim of trafficking, etc.)
  • How long client has been in the US?
  • From which program do they seek services (R&P, ECM, MG, PC, TVAP)?

See our referral information page to learn more.

Refugee Services

In-Kind Needs

The Refugee Services team relies on donations from volunteers and partners to furnish houses and apartments for arriving individuals and families. These donations can include lightly used furniture as well as new household items. For questions about in-kind donations or to schedule a time to drop off items, please contact us.

Furniture

  • Dining room table & chairs
  • Couches (not hide a beds)
  • Lamps
  • Coffee tables
  • End tables
  • Dressers

Miscellaneous

  • Computers (laptops/desktops in good working condition)
  • Smart phones (in good condition)
  • Headphones (new or lightly used)
  • TVs (flat screens only. No large tube TVs)
  • Bikes and bike locks (adult & youth)
  • Bus passes (adult & youth)

Kits (we prefer to receive kits versus individual items. All items must be new)

  • WELCOME KITS - teapot & tea, Oregon calendar, map of Portland, blanket, welcome doormat, notebook, pens, pencils, chocolate, umbrella, soccer, basketball
  • PERSONAL CARE KITS - toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, razors, shaving cream, nail clippers/files, tweezers, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper
  • KITCHEN KITS - dishes, cups, glasses, mugs, silverware, silverware tray, dish towels, potholders, paper towels, hand soap, trash bags, mixing bowls, Tupperware/food storage containers, frying pans, pots with lids, baking dishes, cutting board, kitchen knives, spatula, can opener
  • BEDDING KITS - sheets, pillows, comforters (for twin- and full-size beds)
  • BATHROOM KITS - bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, bathmat, hand soap, toilet paper, small waste basket, shower rod, shower curtain
  • CLEANING KITS - mop & bucket, broom & dustpan, sponges, toilet brush, dish soap, laundry detergent, light bulbs, tissues, paper towels
Articles

Refugee Services team helps newcomers find and maintain employment

Posted By | Catholic Charities of Oregon
Those who flee oppression and violence arrive in the U.S. to find yet another dire situation. Catholic Charities’ Refugee Services department has developed resources to keep newcomers employed and housed.
A mother holding her daughter and smiling

Refugee resettlement in the NW corner of the U.S.: “An honor and a privilege”

Posted By | Matthew Westerbeck
This post originally appeared on USCCB’s Faces of Migration blog.
Matthew Westerbeck

Dispatch from McAllen, Texas

Posted By | Kat Kelley, Director of Strategic Initiatives
Kat Kelley