Archived Story

Helping refugees succeed

Published 7:15pm Sunday, January 22, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS — For hundreds of refugees who flee their homelands each year and attempt to start new lives in Michigan, finding a job is one of the first major hurdles.The Matching Grant program run by Lutheran Social Services of Michigan provides job skills training, language classes, job placement and many other outreach and support services to help refugees learn to stand on their own.
Six months after clients arrive, more than 80 percent have achieved economic self-sufficiency. This means at least one adult in the household has a job, according to Chris Cavanaugh, program director.
“The clients really want to succeed and just want to have a chance. They’ve been denied it for so long — due to incredible, extreme, often traumatic experiences — that they’ve been through before they arrived in the U.S,” Cavanaugh said.
The program is funded through a public-private partnership and, for every dollar raised by the agency, the federal government matches it with $2.
“Staff members will be up at 5:30 in the morning for a week driving them to work, picking them up when they’re done and they’re doing this with multiple clients to insure that the clients are there, and that they’re learning the job, and that the employers can depend on them,” Cavanaugh said.

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