Category Archives: Uncategorized

Creating a Perfect Blend

The Church of St. Leonard of Port Maurice and the Church of the Holy Name share a priest, but are otherwise quite different Roman Catholic parishes in Minneapolis, with their own memberships, cultures, worship spaces, and histories. They had been actively looking for an initiative to share that would bring their communities together in a common work, and after a long process of exploration and planning, they decided to work together to co-sponsor a new family in their journey from refugees to Minnesotans. The result was an incredible bonding, not just with the refugee family, but between parishes as well. Churches have been an integral part of welcoming refugees throughout America’s history, and that involvement has taken many different forms through the years. Similarly, MCC Refugee Services’ co-sponsorship model has evolved over decades to create a supportive and flexible model that allows for a variety of different expressions while still … Continue reading

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A Journey of Faith–One Year Later

When Colonial Church of Edina and Upper Room volunteers took the call from MCC Refugee Services last summer inviting them to welcome a 7 member family who had fled Afghanistan as refugees, they could hardly have imagined the bond they would form in the coming months. They shared some reflections with us as the family’s one year anniversary in Minnesota approaches, and we wanted to share a bit of their journey with you. “July 6th marks the 1st year anniversary of Abed family’s presence in Minnesota. At this time last year, MCC’s Outreach Specialist contacted me to ask whether we were prepared to support a 7 member family fleeing Afghanistan. Her question came at an inconvenient time, as July 4th was approaching, with summer vacations and all. Yet, I knew that somehow we would walk alongside this family. Many from our team rallied to ready their apartment, gather furniture, and … Continue reading

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Welcoming New Staff: Yassah Mulbah, Health Case Manager

Yassah Mulbah joins our team as a full-time Health Case Manager working with Mary Kelso to support families in our Intensive Case Management Program. Growing up, her mother always encouraged her, saying “No matter how hard things are, you can always help. As long as you can help someone, do it.” That encouragement has led to a lifelong love of service. She studied rehabilitation counseling and anticipates completing her Masters in Social Work degree this year. Before coming to MCC Refugee Services, Yassah worked as a case manager at a mental health clinic where she supported a large caseload of patients working across a broad spectrum of needs. Her work there involved a lot of advocacy for individuals because of the lingering stigmas surrounding mental illness. She has also worked with a non-profit providing employment search assistance. Originally from West Africa, Yassah’s first language is English, but she also speaks … Continue reading

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A Day in the Life of an Employment Counselor

What does it take to help individuals who recently arrived as refugees find their first jobs in Minnesota? To give you a better sense of what is involved on a day-to-day basis, we asked Refugee Services employment counselor Brittany Esau to take a few notes about some of the activities she does in an average week. As you can see, working with an individual on their employment goals is a holistic process that addresses many facets of a family’s life. -       Last week, I met with Karen family in their home to discuss employment. The husband came with a few ideas. His uncle works at a wholesale plant nursery that he knew was hiring. This week, we went to complete an application and he went through an interview. He answered the questions perfectly and was offered the job. Today I took him to complete a drug test and he will … Continue reading

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New Staff Profile: Briana Baker

Briana may be new to our staff, but she’s not a new face in the Refugee Services Mankato office. Briana has been volunteering in the office for a year, assisting where needed, and we’re excited to have her join our team as a part-time staff person. Briana provides administrative support to the staff of the Mankato office, greeting individuals in the lobby area, making sure that supplies are well-stocked, answering phones, and helping the office to run smoothly. Briana’s interest in involvement with Refugee Services Mankato began when she had some flexibility with her work schedule and wanted to make an explicit statement of her support for refugees. She noted that the current political climate was communicating a lack of welcome through policies and statements, both in blatant and more subtle ways. Volunteering with Refugee Services Mankato gave her a very tangible way to express her support for refugees. She … Continue reading

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New Staff Profile: Remona Htoo

When a new-comer to Minnesota feels overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to start, Remona can offer empathy and hope based on her own experience. She tells them, “I was in your shoes 11 years ago, and it will be okay.” Remona and her family came to Idaho as refugees when she was just 12 years old, and just three weeks ago, she moved to Minnesota herself. Remona is a new Case Aide with MCC Refugee Services, assisting case managers and other staff where needed with newly arriving families, particularly those from Burma. That might mean providing Karen language interpretation, bringing new arrivals to appointments, and helping to sort out documentation for families. It is a busy and vital role to helping new arrivals feel settled and welcome in their new home. A recent graduate of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, Remona obtained her degree in Social Work and hopes to … Continue reading

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A New Way to Move: Bike program partnership gives wheels to Somali youth

Riding bikes in the summertime has to be one of the most quintessential childhood experiences in Minnesota, and a new partnership between Refugee Services Mankato and Key City Bikes opened up that opportunity for Somali children in Mankato. Key City Bikes is a local non-profit with a variety of programs and a strong reputation in the community. Among other things, they are known as a donation site for used bikes, which they then fix and make available to community members. They also host an annual Earn-a-Bike project  (http://keycitybike.org/get/earn-a-bike/) where 14-20 year olds have the opportunity to learn about bike maintenance and earn their own bike and accessories at the completion of the program. When there were a few openings left for their spring session, Key City Bikes reached out to Refugee Services Mankato to see if any families we knew might be interested in participating. Community Navigator Jaffer Mohamud reached … Continue reading

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More than just a place to play

Recently-arrived Somali children dashed around the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota with excitement, finding new and imaginative exhibits to explore while their mothers found a much needed space to connect and build community in a new home. One of our program goals for new families in Mankato is the facilitation of sustainable social connections for refugees, and Mankato Refugee Services staff realized that the museum would be a wonderful resource for families with children. Our staff members Nancy Altmann and Habiba Rashid reached out to museum outreach staff to see if the museum would be open to scheduling special welcome events for refugee families and received an enthusiastic welcome. As museum Community Outreach and Impact Director Sue Larsen said, “The Children’s Museum is for all families. The board and founding mothers wanted the museum to be open and welcoming for all families and we want refugee families to know that … Continue reading

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New Staff Profile: Ahmed “Jaffer” Joins Mankato Team

MCC Refugee Services’ newest employee, Ahmed “Jaffer,” joined the Mankato team just two months ago. He brings a wealth of experience and a great sense of humor as he works to help those who came to our community as refugees find employment in Minnesota. I interviewed him to learn about what brought Jaffer to MCC Refugee Services and share the work he is doing in the Mankato area. Knowing that nicknames can offer insight into someone’s history, I asked Jaffer how he got his nickname. He explained that he grew up in Somalia and was given the name Jaffer by his parents. As a 2nd grader, he made the decision to change his own name to Ahmed, but he laughingly regrets the decision. He explained that Ahmed is such a common name in the Somali community, but Jaffer is unique. Regardless of the name change, he’s always been known as … Continue reading

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Volunteer Profile: Aleisha

Do you remember when news of the Syrian refugee crisis dominated the news a few years ago? Refugee Services volunteer Aleisha does. She had recently left her work with victims of domestic violence to stay home with her son and was looking for a way to make a difference in her corner of the world. The news about refugee families fleeing resonated deeply with her and she was determined to do something. Traveling overseas to help wasn’t a possibility for her, so Aleisha found a way to be involved locally through MCC Refugee Services. One of Aleisha’s first volunteer experiences was helping set up the apartment for a newly arriving family. She remembers the experience with a sense of awe. Even though she never met them, she still thinks about the grandmother and her two grandchildren who made that apartment home. Aleisha loved putting away dishes and making beds, knowing … Continue reading

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