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At the end of September, the last month of our fiscal year, Migration and Refugee Services resettled an agency high number of refugees at 420 individuals. This coming fiscal year, we are slated to resettle even more refugees through our agency. His Holiness, Pope Francis’ message of mercy and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s message of Welcoming the Stranger, help guide our agency’s mission and vision.
Take a moment to consider that many of the refugees we welcome have been in camps for over 15 years. In this issue you will learn how those same people have so much to offer our region economically through their determination and their belief in the American dream. In this issue you will also read about three full-time volunteers who have chosen to offer a year of their life in service to our clients as well as an appreciation to the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, with special gratitude extended toward Sister Peg Cessna, who have given so much to our clients and agency. Our annual Christmas Party is also approaching!
To borrow from the Sisters’ mission statement, especially in this time of great division, "we will continue to share Jesus’ mission of bringing more abundant life to God’s people, especially the poor, by responding to the needs of the times.”
I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


  • New Volunteers
  • An Evening of Gratitude
  • Mentoring a Refugee Family 
  • Employment
  • Economic Impact of Refugees


  • Donations
  • Save the Date: Christmas Party
  • Survivor's of Torture After a Year 
  • How are Refugees Vetted



We are thrilled to announce that three brand new, full-time volunteers have begun an exciting yearlong journey at MRS (from the image above left to right): 
  • Michaela Schoeffler graduated from Ohio University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. Michaela is currently in her second year as an AmeriCorps member. During her first year of service, Michaela worked at the County Health Department in Marietta, Ohio. Now at MRS, Michaela plays a key role in the early resettlement phase as the Cultural Orientation Coordinator for all newly arrived refugees. In addition to planning and facilitating cultural orientation, Michaela assists refugees in opening bank accounts and becoming educated about financial literacy through regular course offerings.
  • A recent graduate from Cleveland State University, Dan applies his studies in Public Management and Nonprofit Administration as the new Healthcare Navigator for all newly arrived refugees. Quite possibly one of the busiest individuals in the office, Dan spends his days assisting refugees travel to and from health appointments and schedule visits to the doctor. With an ultimate goal of moving individuals towards self—sufficiency, a large part of Dan’s work also includes helping refugees understand insurance benefits and how to pay medical bills. 
  • Joining the Mary’s House staff as a Single Mother’s Healthcare Navigator; Tessa Laubacher recently graduated from University of Notre Dame with a degree in Psychology. Tessa is one of three individuals currently working at MRS through the Sister’s of the Humility of Mary volunteer program. Only having been with us a little over a month, Tessa has already become quite busy meeting with women and children in the program and developing a new curriculum for daily classes at Mary’s House.


On Wednesday, November 9th, over 80 people gathered to celebrate Mary’s House, the single mother’s program. Since its inception in 2013, the Mary’s House program has served 87 women and 210 children from 12 different countries, speaking 10 different languages. The program focuses heavily on case management, job readiness and English language training. The event, called “An Evening of Gratitude,” was an opportunity for MRS staff to thank the people who have made the program a success. Attendees included MRS staff, nuns from the Sister’s of the Humility of Mary, single mothers and children, family mentors and volunteers.
Over the course of the evening, several individuals were recognized and thanked for their ongoing support of the program. The guest of honor, Sister Peg Cessna, was acknowledged in a special way for her commitment during the foundation and eventual continuation of the program. Sr. Peg has been involved with countless families in varying capacities over the past 8 years. In recent years, Sr. Peg has primarily served as a family mentor to refugees who are single mothers. Prior to receiving funding for the program, Stacy Dever identified a significant gap in services to refugee single mothers. Stacy’s vision and Sr. Peg’s concern for the growing refugee community lead to the development of Mary’s House. The program continues to flourish with new single mothers and their children arriving on an almost weekly basis. Women are empowered and motivated through the hard work and dedication of the Sister’s of the Humility of Mary, MRS staff, full-time volunteers and family mentors.


Are you interested in becoming a friend to a newly arrived refugee family? Consider becoming an official refugee mentor! Andy Mathay, the Volunteer Coordinator, will host Mentor Training on Saturday, December 3rd from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm at our office. The training will consist of a Refugee 101, Mentor Training and VIRTUS certification. Please contact Andrew Mathay at or (216) 939-3759 if you are interested in attending.


Employment services are a source of nearly half of all services available to refugees and other eligible populations at MRS. Currently, there are a total of 4 different programs for individuals seeking help to prepare for and find employment. While three of the four programs are accessible to individuals for a total of five years from the date of their arrival into the country, one special employment program, called Match Grant, is only available to individuals for a short period of time. Funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, this early employment program is designed to promote client self-sufficiency. The ultimate goal for all employable adults is to secure employment within 180 days of arrival in the United States. Individuals and families enrolled in the program receive supplemental assistance for rent, utilities, bus tickets and pocket money as long as they remain in good standing with program guidelines. Job Developers, Maggie Barnard and Hilary Lucas, are responsible for selecting and enrolling program participants, assisting with resume development, job coaching and interview preparation, and eventual job placement with follow-up care.

Currently working from a bank of 54 different employers located around the greater Cleveland area, Maggie and Hilary work in concert with one another to make the perfect match for both the refugee and the employer. In Federal Fiscal Year 2016 (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016), Maggie and Hilary enrolled a total of 129 employable adults in the Match Grant program. Of those individuals, an overall 84% retained employment and attained self-sufficiency by 180 days. A focus in recent years for Job Developers has been to diversify the employer base through public outreach. While 60% of all job placements are manufacturing and food service related, refugees are also working as industrial sewers, professional drivers, housekeepers and farmers. Given the boost in employment available to local Clevelanders lately, Job Developers are forming new relationships with retailers, hotels, hospitals and various other companies to expand options for employable adults. Maggie and Hilary welcome you to email or call anytime for more information about our employment services or referrals to potential new employers.
Maggie – or (216) 939-3719
Hilary – or (216) 939-3854


The Economic Impact of Refugees in Cleveland

The economic impact of refugees in our region. (Image courtesy of Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland)


Truly a wonderful time of year, the upcoming holiday season is an opportunity to reflect and share with one another. As the snow begins to fall and the holiday season commences, it is this time of year that our staff and refugees alike especially feel the warmth of the surrounding community. We are overwhelmingly blessed to receive donations from churches, schools, organizations and individuals throughout the community for the refugees we resettle on a daily basis. Over the course of the next few weeks, the sophomore volunteers from St. Ignatius High School will be busier than ever, working alongside Megan McQueen, the Donation and Housing Coordinator, to collect and sort donated items. We welcome you and your families to donate any of the following items:
  • Silverware (forks, knifes, spoons)
  • Set of Dishes (plates, bowls and cups)
  • Pots and pans
  • Baking Dishes
  • Large Mixing/Serving Bowls
  • Kitchen Utensils
  • Towels
  • Sheet Sets (Full and Twin)
  • Comforters
  • New Pillows
  • Alarm Clocks
  • Toilet Paper
  • Bars of Soap
  • Men’s and Women’s Deodorant
  • Razors
  • Shower Curtains, Liners and Rods
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Bicycles
  • Winter Coats
  • Gloves and Mittens
  • Warm Hats
  • Scarves
  • Socks
  • Boots


On Wednesday, December 21st, MRS will host the annual Christmas Party in the Hispanic Senior Center from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. This event is open to any new refugees, resettled by MRS, arriving during the 2016 calendar year. As in years past, MRS will provide food and music. There will also be activities and games for children. All refugees are encouraged to dress in cultural clothing. There will be an opportunity for refugees to share their culture through song and dance. We would encourage all mentors working directly with a refugee family to bring the individuals to the event and share in the celebration. The staff will coordinate rides for refugees that have recently arrived and do not have bus passes, or are unable to take public transportation. Please contact Andrew Mathay at or (216) 939-3759 with questions.


The Ohio Center for Survivors of Torture grant has now been in effect for over a year. With a case load of 152 individuals, clients that are survivor's of torture have been able to receive holistic, strength based, trauma-informed services. Heath Rosenberger, who oversees the program and manages the grant said, "The program is available to any individual who has survived torture they a United States citizen or refugee."

The program is based around five pillars that drive its mission. These five pillars are: medical, psychological, legal, social and spiritual. In addition to these pillars, clients are also receiving assistance with attaining employment, addressing medical needs and connecting individuals with community organizations that will help meet their individual needs. 

With a program like this, it takes a tremendous amount of work from staff members here at Migration and Refugee Services. Mead Wilkins, LISW, is the Clinical Director, overseeing the day to day operations of the program. Tara Knight, a Licensed Social Worker, and Adriana Coppola, an immigration attorney, work tirelessly to provide assistance to these clients depending on their needs. Suzanne LeSure is a psychiatrist working as an independent contractor providing her expertise and knowledge for our staff and clients.  


Interested in learning how refugees are screened? Watch this video narrated by Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security. 
Copyright © 2016 Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, All rights reserved.

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