The UN has designated June 20th as World Refugee Day. Given the dimensions of the world refugee crisis, this is a great time to examine what Junior Leagues are doing in their own communities to address the refugee crisis.
Last year we wrote about a timely and innovative initiative by the Junior League of Cincinnati called RefugeeConnect.
Timely because it looks to create local action against a global crisis involving millions of refugees.
Innovative because it connects refugees resettled in Cincinnati with local service providers to help integrate them into their new lives and new community. At the same time, RefugeeConnect serves to create opportunities for local volunteers to get involved in the solution while also increasing community awareness of the needs of refugees and promoting upcoming advocacy events.
But the Junior League of Cincinnati is by no means the only Junior League active on this issue.
Education is clearly one approach, so volunteers from the Junior League of Memphis are working with adult refugees by teaching English as a second language and providing pre-GED classes, basic math and citizenship preparedness.
Protecting refugee women and children from domestic abuse is another, so the Junior League of DeKalb County established International Women’s House in 1995 as a shelter to serve battered women and children of all nationalities, supported by a multi-cultural, multi-lingual staff. While the facility became autonomous four years later, JLD and its members remain active supporters of the organization and its mission.
And mental health services is clearly another need, so the Junior League of Austin provided both volunteers and $17,900 in funds for the Center for Survivors of Torture, which provides free mental health and social services to refugees and asylum seekers who have suffered torture and trauma before fleeing their countries.