These surviving families have faced and overcome many challenges. RIS staff and volunteers have been there to help them to rebuild their lives and successfully adjust to this new environment. Our mission grew from solely providing refugee resettlement to assisting others, entering the U.S. without that immigration status, who found themselves in similar circumstances. In providing immigration counseling, we learned that many new to our communities likewise needed assistance in caring for their families. School and community liaisons identified many needs and sought to prepare mainstream providers to address these concerns. Interpreter services and cross-cultural training helped bridge gaps and better integrate newcomers into our community. English instruction -- through the dedication and hard work of over 120 volunteers each year -- has been pivotal to furthering this goal. The many people who are now our neighbors, friends and colleagues attest to the success of these efforts.
Over the past years, there has been discussion regarding whether Refugee and Immigration services would be better served if it were part of Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC). The diocese offered a great deal of administrative, financial and organizational support, but could not provide the non-profit expertise of a multifaceted family service agency. A taskforce convened to review the work of RIS and make recommendations to support its mission in the future. It was decided that RIS would benefit from an enhanced infrastructure which would include fund development, marketing and public relations. Additionally, being part of a larger social service organization would strengthen the scope of services provided to clients and help RIS adjust to the budgetary impact caused by fluctuations in refugee arrivals. In response, a decision was made to make RIS a program of CCC.
It is anticipated that RIS will integrate with Commonwealth Catholic Charities on January 1, 2010. We will continue to provide a wide range of services, and our mission and office locations will not change. We will continue to partner with local, state, and national programs. Office telephone numbers will not change, but staff will have new email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org. As part of CCC we will see improved efficiencies and expect programmatic integration that will extend resources. We remain committed to serving the foreign born in our community and look forward to bringing new partners to this effort. The RIS team deeply values your interest and support in our mission, and our relationship with our volunteers will remain our most important. As part of the vibrant organization that is Commonwealth Catholic Charities, we anticipate renewed strength in empowering the displaced to rebuild their lives in a welcoming community.
Refugee and Immigration Services of Virginia