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Refugees from Afghan are coming to the Portland area, including Southeast. Here's the effort being made...

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Lisa Danlli, Program Director for Refugee Community Services at Lutheran Community Services, told Southeast Portland Rotary in a November virtual meeting about various ways that Southeast Portland is helping to welcome and resettle Afghan refugees. The chaotic August airlift exit of Americans, and Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S., has left many Afghan families destitute and traumatized.

One of several nonprofit organizations helping these families to restart their lives in Portland is Lutheran Community Services.

The Southeast Portland Rotary Club's weekly Monday noon meetings often have presenters addressing timely topics; and, in November, one such talk was by Lisa Danlli, of the Refugee Community Services Program Director at Lutheran Community Services.

In a 40-minute virtual talk to the club using ZOOM, she shared information about what the organization is doing, and how people in Portland can help. Danlli informed the Rotary group that Lutheran Community Services is scheduled to welcome 180 Afghans into Portland before the end of 2021. Approximately 60% of those are children under twelve years of age. Some families have six or seven children, and finding long-term affordable housing for large families has proven very challenging.

Because many of these families left Afghanistan with none of their possessions, one Rotary meeting attendee disclosed that Catholic Charities is organizing Portlanders to donate "restart kits" for Afghan families. The categories of these kits are: Personal care; welcome; kitchen; baby; bedding; bathroom; and cleaning. The kits, in portable plastic tubs, are taken to the Refugee Care Collective in Tigard for distribution.

The Afghans entering Portland are varied in their English language capabilities. Those who enter with SIVs ("Special Immigrant Visas") have worked with the U.S. Government while in Afghanistan, or were interpreters – and they, who are most often men, usually do not need language services. When Rotary member Judy Tester asked if there are English classes for the refugees, Danlli said that they, along with their nonprofit partners, do provide ESL classes.

Together, the participating organizations – Lutheran Community Services, IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization), Catholic Charities, the Refugee Care Collective, and EMO's (Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon) program "SOAR" (Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees) are doing all they can to provide support. But decreased staff and funding during the pandemic, and the growing numbers of refugees, create larger challenges.

The Oregon Department of Human Services' Emergency Management program, which provides shelter and food for Oregon wildfire victims, is also providing temporary housing and access to food for Afghan families as they arrive to Oregon. And resettlement agencies continue seek permanent housing options.

To find out how to help, or to make a monetary donation, contact Lutheran Community Services at 503/231-7480. More information is online – lcsnw.org/office/portland

And, for more information on those restart kits – refugeecarecollective.org/restart-kits

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ERIC NORBERG - At the Bybee Boulevard entrance to Moreland Presbyterian Church in Westmoreland.

Moreland Presbyterian Church commits to sponsor an Afghan family

By REBECCA MOWE Special to THE BEE

Of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have been dislocated by war, thousands of them are now in the United States at military bases, awaiting permanent placement. All are seeking safety and stability as they rebuild their lives. Oregon will receive 180 of these refugees, most of whom will be resettled in the Portland and Salem areas. Moreland Presbyterian Church, on S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland, is working with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, as well as with other local non-church partners, to sponsor an Afghan refugee family. The group has a core of passionate organizers, and early financial commitment, and will be matched with a family once affordable housing is located. Affordable housing is the critical need, and the group is actively searching for options in close-in Southeast Portland. The affordability factor is especially challenging, but the group hopes to find something close to the church. Once the family is designated, and housing for them is found, volunteers and material resources will be needed for immediate and long-term assistance. There will be opportunities to provide support in areas of employment, language, transportation, education, shopping, legal issues and general acculturation. For donations, and for information about volunteering – or if you know of appropriate local housing available to rent – contact Moreland Presbyterian Church via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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