2022 Impact Report
July 2021 - June 2022
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director
Wow! What a wild year. Back in June 2021, a few of us were setting up our new office in Durham for what was then a team of about 16 people. I remember this sense of excitement amongst the team as we knew that change was on the horizon, but we didn’t know exactly when or what that growth would look like – the situation was very much, “hurry up and wait.”
Just a couple of short months later, Kabul fell to the Taliban, and we spent the next several months in crisis-response mode. We hired rapidly – more than doubling in size over the next six months - and our newest team members joined the CWS veterans to meet the moment. As I reflect on this crisis, what will always stand out to me is the incredible way our community responded to this pivotal time in our nation’s history. With your help and the support of hundreds of volunteers across the state, we secured refuge for over 400 of our Afghan allies in NC.
Over the last year we’ve also opened a new office in Charlotte to respond to the needs of unaccompanied immigrant children and added an office in Wilmington to expand our network of refugee resettlement communities across the state. Our Durham and Greensboro offices have dramatically expanded their immigration legal services to meet the needs of resettled Afghans and unaccompanied children.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the unwavering support of our partners like you. Thank you for everything you do to welcome refugees and immigrants to North Carolina – we absolutely could not do this work without you.
We absolutely could not do this work without you.
CWS has provided us with the support along the way including economic support to be here in the U.S. and always attentive to our needs.
Our New Neighbors
Vanessa & Luis: Siblings Reunited
CWS Refugee Clients
Vanessa waited in the arrivals terminal of RDU airport to surprise her brother Luis as he stepped off the plane into his new home of North Carolina—the same steps she and her three daughters had taken just a few weeks earlier. After fleeing from their home in Colombia in 2018, Vanessa, her three daughters, and her brother Luis lived in a refugee camp in Ecuador while they waited for this opportunity to begin again in the U.S.
From the living room in her new apartment, Vanessa described her arrival as an exciting and emotional time:
Sometimes when you first arrive [in a new place], you say to yourself, "Where do I go now...? I don’t know anyone or where I’m going..." But that is one of the most beautiful things that I hold dear to my heart [...about our arrival] is that someone was there to pick us up. You all have really made me feel at home...I was welcomed with dignity. - Vanessa
In his own apartment just across the backyard from his sister, Luis described his resettlement experience as "something very beautiful." He recalled dreaming as a child of one day coming to the U.S., saying, "I love the culture here and everyone is so nice."
With the support of our CWS employment specialists, Luis started his new job almost immediately after moving into his apartment. He described his co-workers as "welcoming and caring" and added that they've received him with "lots of love and appreciation." Even when riding his bike to work, Luis loves all the people who wave and say hello even without knowing him.
Luis also expressed his gratitude for all of the support he has received from CWS:
CWS has provided us with support along the way including economic support to be here in the U.S. and is always attentive to our needs. This support is very important. When you are recently arrived, one doesn’t really know anything. CWS provides support to persons coming in as refugees, and this is good because with the help you guys provide, we can better understand things in this country. It is of much importance to have this type of help to all recently arrived persons. - Luis
Vanessa and Luis both expressed their hopes for these new chapters of their lives. Vanessa's hopes for her daughters is that they continue their education and become professionals when they grow up. For herself, Vanessa wants to study something with number like mathematics. Luis is focused on pursuing his citizenship and one day becoming a homeowner.
Welcoming Evacuated Afghans
Our Employments Specialists work with refugees and immigrants for up to five years after they arrive in the U.S. to support their personal career goals and their family's financial well-being.
Our services include federal and state funded programs that enable our team to support clients with a variety of employment related services, including English language classes, vocational training, budgeting, interview training, and application assistance.
If not us, who?
Audrey is a member of Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, a local congregation with a long history of support for refugees with CWS Durham. Members of ERUUF answered our calls for help in the fall of 2021 at the beginning of the Afghan evacuation and became one of CWS Durham's first Community Sponsorship groups. Audrey shared about her experience as part of an ERUUF team serving a recently arrived family:
There was no way to measure the soulful connection that we were gonna make with these human beings, and they are truly spectacular human beings. What they've experienced and seen has become a real beacon for me in terms of how I live my own life and how I put things in perspective.
COmmunity Sponsor Teams
Individual Community Sponsors
Communities Acting for Refugee Empowerment (CARE)
Our new Communities Acting for Refugee Empowerment (CARE) program launched last summer. This innovative program, based on a reimagining of Community Sponsorship, matches established refugees in Durham with volunteers and funding to help them achieve their career goals and find economic upward mobility.
This year, a generous couple in Durham made a transformational gift to underwrite this new pilot program for the next 5 years. Other community members have now followed suit, making gifts to provide the direct financial assistance component for CARE clients who are pursuing career advancement through vocational education.
We also have a focus in helping undocumented immigrants. Programs like the NC-ISF and the Welcome Program serve as a little bit of hope for them.
Immigrants and Asylum-Seekers
Migrant Services Coordinator
German joined our CWS Durham team in the Spring of 2021 following a fully remote, senior year internship with our Greensboro office. In his first role, German worked with hundreds of Durham residents seeking financial assistance from the City of Durham's pandemic related Emergency Rental Assistance Program. After the city ended their rental assistance program, German transitioned to his current role of Migrant Services Coordinator. Here is how German describes his work with undocumented immigrants across North Carolina:
We (CWS Durham) are primarily recognized for the refugee resettlement work that we do, but we also have a focus on helping immigrants. In North Carolina, we see a huge need for immigrants, and most of the time they're undocumented. These programs like the NC-ISF and the welcome program serve as a little bit of hope for them. Immigrants have a hard time accessing certain resources in the community, maybe because of their legal status or because the fear of getting their name involved with a governmental agency and potentially putting their situation here at risk. So, we recognize that there's a need from the community to access resources that are culturally appropriate, that are responsive, and that are confidential more than anything.
NC-Immigrant Solidarity Fund
State-wide Financial Grants
State-wide Funds Granted
Immigration Legal Services
Safely navigating the U.S. immigration legal system is fundamental for refugees and immigrants to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of belonging. However, they often face many complicated and expensive legal hurdles on their paths to citizenship and attempts to reunite with children, siblings, and other family still living abroad. Without access to professional legal services, they can face dire consequences. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers, counselors, paralegals, and support staff fill this gap by offering free or low-cost, high-quality legal services.
Over the past year we have expanded our services to support clients petitioning for reunification with their children through the Central American Minors Program. This program was temporally halted under the previous presidential administration, but was re-authorized by the Biden administration. Our team has also expanded and re-organized to meet the immigration needs of Afghan evacuees whose legal paths to residency and citizenship are uncertain with still evolving federal law.