South Bend: City Joins Refugee Steering Committee to Assist Catholic Charities and United Religious Community

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November 23, 2021

The City of South Bend, in collaboration with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (CCFWSB), the United Religious Community of St. Joseph County (URC), and La Casa de Amistad, among other partners, announces the creation of the Refugee Steering Committee for South Bend and St. Joseph County.

The new group, which met for the first time on November 19, 2021, will provide guidance to the United Religious Community and Catholic Charities as both organizations prepare to help up to 60 Afghans recently displaced from that country.

The Refugee Steering Committee, which will operate under the joint direction of CCFWSB and URC, provides the opportunity for input from public officials and sharing of resources. Initial membership, which met at La Casa de Amistad's new South Bend facility, includes members from law enforcement, public education, health officials, and representatives from the State of Indiana. The group will meet quarterly.

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"The St. Joseph County community has been a welcoming home for new Americans since it was formed, and has helped hundreds of refugees to successfully adapt," noted John Pinter, Executive Director for the URC. "We have heard from many wanting to help and look forward to welcoming families to this community in the near future."

Both the URC and Catholic Charities will be helping resettle families in St. Joseph County who were displaced when the government of Afghanistan collapsed.

"Recent events in Afghanistan have led to a humanitarian crisis," says Dan Florin, Interim CEO of CCFWSB. "Since 1975, Catholic Charities has been called upon to help war-torn families put their lives back together and we look forward to continuing our mission in South Bend."

While arrival dates have not been determined, each organization has committed to help up to 30 individuals each, which could allow about 60 individuals to relocate to the community in the coming few months. This would equate to roughly 10-15 families. Both organizations will be responsible for helping families assigned to them and will coordinate with the local community and key leaders through the Refugee Steering Committee.

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"South Bend is a growing, inclusive city that welcomes new residents and embraces diversity," said Mayor James Mueller. "I am proud of URC and Catholic Charities for leading the way in assisting Afghan refugees to make a new home here in South Bend. I appreciate the many contributions and sacrifices these families made for our country during the long conflict in Afghanistan and I look forward to welcoming them to our community."

"La Casa de Amistad is prepared and ready to support URC and CCFWSB as we work as a community to support, empower, and welcome our new neighbors from Afghanistan," said Juan Constantino, Executive Director for La Casa. "We are counting on and are inviting our community to join us in our efforts to welcome these new families to our area."

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