“Serving Refugees and Immigrant Neighbors Together” is our motto, representing the heart of what we do as Arrive Ministries. “Together” being the critical word, as our staff, the families we serve, and the volunteers we empower together bring about lifelong transformation. Let us walk you through what this has looked like for one family.
In 2016, a Russian man came to our office and met with Timothy Paulson, an immigration counselor on our Immigration Legal Services (ILS) team. Timothy helped him apply for five of his siblings to be resettled in Minnesota through a program for people from the Former Soviet Union.
In August 2018, after a couple years of waiting, this family arrived in Minnesota and were resettled by our office. The family included five adult siblings and two of their spouses (totaling 7 people). They were met at the airport by their case worker, Jenny Klem, who provided case management as a part of our Reception and Placement (R&P) program for their first three months. R&P works as a team, so the program director also provided support in enrolling them for health insurance and finding them housing. Rebekah Phillips enrolled them in the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program, which provided some funds to support them while they were looking for jobs.
Then entered Anya Yastremski and Ashley Burkhardsmeier with our Refugee Employment Services (RES) team. These two worked hard helping some of the family members create resumes, prepare for work culture in the United States, and apply for jobs. They successfully secured employment at a hotel. With their new jobs, it was important for them to grow in learning English, but it was also difficult for them to attend ESL classes because of their new work schedules. Anya recognized their need for ESL tutoring and reached out to the Refugee Life Ministries (RLM) team to see if there were any volunteers who could tutor them in English
Zack Szyman, a Church Team Coordinator with RLM, reached out to Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park, who we have partnered with in the past, to see if they might have some people willing to tutor these family members. In about a months’ time he was able to introduce three members of their newly-formed church team to three members of this family. Our current RCA Coordinator, Kristina Shirokova, who also came as a refugee from Russia as a child, came with to interpret. It was a fun introduction filled with hospitality, laughs, excitement to learn and teach English, and grow in friendship.
It’s possible that in the future they may even come back to our office and receive help again from our Immigration Legal Services (ILS) team to apply for Green Cards, Citizenship or to apply for family members to come to the United States.
This family and their story is just one example of how we within Arrive Ministries staff, in partnership with local churches, participate in “serving refugees and immigrant neighbors together.”