Immigration and Refugee Services – How Can You Help?

Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services is dedicated to helping refugees and other vulnerable immigrants who have fled their countries to escape violence and persecution. This complex, comprehensive work often involves fragile survivors. Case managers, trainers, and job developers help them learn English, find work, and make a new home.

Our goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible. Our services strive to:

• Connect those who recently received asylum to programs and services
• Ensure pre-arrival arrangements for arriving refugees
• Conduct post-arrival case management and provide direct assistance
• Offer community and cultural orientation on topics such as Cultural Adjustment, Education, Financial Literacy, Health, Housing, Transportation, and U.S. Laws
• Enroll refugees into English as a Second Language (ESL) classes
• Support parents to enroll children in school
• Provide information and referrals to social services and benefits
• Prepare refugees for work and place refugees in employment positions

Refugees are admitted to the United States through an extensive vetting process. The U.S. government oversees the program through the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Many people are interested in supporting this important work. Here are some ways individuals or groups can help:

1. Monetary Donations
Your financial contribution directly supports our agency’s efforts to help these vulnerable families. Donations can be made either online or by mail.

• Make your secure online donation by visiting

Online Donation Page – Immigration and Refugee Services

• Mail your check (payable to Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services) to:

Catholic Charities
4800 Union Deposit Rd.
Harrisburg, PA 17111

If you have specific questions about financial donations, call the Catholic Charities Administration Office at 717-657-4804 extension 284.

2. Donated Items

Below is a list of items that can be donated to support the program:

Twin Bed Frames
New or Like New Twin Mattresses
Twin Sheets
Pots and Pans
Cleaning Kit (Dish Soap, Bathroom Cleaner, Sponges/Paper Towels, Laundry Detergent, Trash Bags, Packed in a Large Trash Can)
Toiletry Kit (Pack of 4 Toilet Paper, Shampoo, Body Wash or Soap Bar, 7 Toothbrushes, 2 Tubes of Toothpaste, Pads, Shaving Cream, and Razor Packed in a Small Trash Can)

3. Donated Storage Space
We are also looking for a storage facility in the Harrisburg area that we could use for free or at very low cost to store furniture for families that have not arrived yet. Often we get very little notice of when a family will be coming. Also, with the number of arrivals increasing our storage space is currently very limited.

4. Volunteer Opportunities
Our Immigration and Refugee Services Program is always looking for individuals or groups looking to volunteer. Contact our office for more information.

For More Information, contact

Charity Stowell
Refugee Resettlement Program Manager
Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Services
939 E Park Dr. Suite 102
Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 704-6350


Imagine your dream student - someone who is bright, inquisitive, kind to others, and comes to class eager to learn. Well, that is Koffi. He first came to my ESL class in May of 2014. He had only been in the United States for about 6 months at that time.

For many people, those first 6 months can be overwhelming and hectic, but Koffi’s spirit is indomitable. He came to class every night ready to learn and in a short time he found a job. Even after a long day of working hard, Koffi would come into class with a smile on his face. He greeted his fellow students with a smile and was ready to learn.

After being in the country for a little over a year, Koffi decided he would like to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). He took the initiative and researched his options before deciding on the program at HACC.
Koffi continued with his English studies right up to the time his CNA class started at HACC. I was sorry to see him leave, but so happy for him.

In June of this year Koffi graduated from the CNA Program at HACC. We are all so proud of Koffi. He has been such a positive influence on all of us, staff and students alike. It is impossible to look at Koffi’s smiling face and not want to smile right back, he is that full of kindness and hope. I am so glad he was my student and I feel certain that he will do even more amazing things in the future.

- ESL Instructor

Tiffany starts her story by openly stating that the first 39 years of her life were a waste. She spent all of her time drinking, which was her way of coping with the many let downs in her life.

Fearing for her life, a friend convinced Tiffany to check herself into a 30-day detox program. Upon completion she entered the Evergreen House program. While this was not her first choice, Tiffany ended up residing at Evergreen House for seven and one-half months.

Tiffany credits Evergreen’s staff and their patience with her eventual success in the program. Evergreen’s staff understood what she was going through and eventually became like her family. The Evergreen House program provided the structure and support she needed to maintain her sobriety.

Tiffany credits Evergreen House for a second chance at life and she is determined to have a positive impact on others.

- anonymous

Catholic Charities Adoption Services and Specialized Foster Care not only provides foster care and adoption services, but it also helps adoptees and their birth families to connect with one other through Search services. Nearly 50 years ago, Tina was an accomplished athlete who found herself pregnant while pursuing an advanced degree. With housing and supportive services from Catholic Charities, Tina made the difficult decision to place her daughter for adoption. Following the adoption, Tina pursued her career as an athlete, coach, and business administrator. While she was confident that she had made the right decision, Tina constantly thought about the daughter she had placed for adoption and wondered about her well-being. She eventually made attempts to find her daughter through various sources and by updating her online information in the event that her only child might someday want to meet her. After several years, Tina had come to the conclusion that meeting her daughter was just not meant to be.
This past year, Tina’s daughter, Beth, contacted Catholic Charities with a request for information about her birth parents. After talking with Beth and encouraging her to pursue the search, Catholic Charities was able to connect Beth with her birth mother. The two later traveled to meet each other, and Tina was given the opportunity to meet Beth’s husband and daughters. Tina was thrilled to learn that she was a grandmother, but she was most happy to hear that her daughter had loving adoptive parents who had given her a good life. Tina later wrote to Catholic Charities that “I think someone did a lot of praying and the prayers were answered.”

- Anonymous

A native of Puerto Rico, Maria* moved to Harrisburg with the dream of building a bright future for herself and her baby. While working to gain her bearing, Maria was kicked out of the house in which she had been staying, rendering Maria and her son homeless. Maria had very few options, as she had not yet secured a job, childcare, or private housing. In March 2017, Maria and her two year old son were welcomed into the Interfaith Shelter.
Upon entering the Interfaith Shelter, Maria immediately began building the skills needed to obtain self-sufficiency. The first challenge to overcome was Maria’s limited English proficiency. Determined to improve her English, Maria enrolled in ESL classes at the Tri-County Adult Learning Center, and she began practicing her growing language skills with residents and staff at the shelter. Maria also enrolled in a workforce development program offered through the PA Department of Human Services, working to develop marketable skills and gain permanent employment. Although many of the area’s transitional housing programs were completely full and had long wait lists, Maria eagerly applied to the YWCA Transitional Housing program. She knew that, with determination and hard work, she could build a better life for her family.
As she was nearing the end of her stay with the Interfaith Shelter, Maria was accepted into the YWCA Transitional Housing program and was assured that a room would soon be available. In order to keep Maria on the path towards success, the Interfaith Shelter granted Maria an extension until she was able to move into the YWCA. During her stay at Interfaith, Maria successfully obtained childcare, enrolled in a cash assistance program, improved her English proficiency, and began developing employment skills leading to a new job. Maria has served as an inspiration to others at the shelter that any barrier can be overcome.

- Anonymous
Council on Accrediation Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations United Way

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