Refugee Services

As one of only three refugee resettlement agencies in the state of Oregon, Catholic Charities provides resettlement and case management services to individuals and families who seek to make Oregon their new home. Our resettlement work dates back to the 1940s, when we began assisting individuals and families who had to leave their homelands due to the fear of persecution, and since the 1980s we have resettled more than 10,500 individuals.

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.
Catholic Charities Welcomes Refugees

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 Mid-County Clinic (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

Referral information

Catholic Charities provides a variety of services and resources to individuals and families with qualifying statuses through federal- and state-funded programs. You can also help connect someone in need to our services by contacting our Refugee Services Team.

Learn more though our referral information page.
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 Spotlight: Looking forward to helping refugee families reunite and rebuild their lives in 2021

Posted By | Catholic Charities of Oregon
Today we congratulate President Biden and welcome him to his first day in office. At Catholic Charities of Oregon, we look forward to what a Biden Administration will mean for our programs—especially our Refugee Services Program.

Política de inmigración durante la transición de la administración presidencial

Posted By | Catholic Charities of Oregon
Manténgase alerta y conozca sus derechos. Protéjase y proteja a su familia con información confiable.

Oregon Wildfires: The Long Road to Recovery

Posted By | Catholic Charities of Oregon
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon’s devastating September wildfires took lives, homes, and acres of land. Whole communities were destroyed. People’s entire livelihoods are gone, their futures uncertain. Alongside local and national partners, Catholic Charities has been supporting disaster relief efforts in Medford, Phoenix, and Talent.

Rebuilding: Oregon Wildfire Victims Turn to Catholic Charities After Losing Homes, Stability, Livelihoods

Posted By | Catholic Charities of Oregon
(VIDEO) Amid an already stressful year, thousands of Oregonians—many from immigrant communities—suffered trauma and devastation unlike many of us will see in our lifetimes.