In response to the global refugee crisis, a group of area residents has applied to sponsor a refugee family in Ridgefield in partnership with Integrated Immigration and Refugee Services (IRIS), a non-profit agency that has been resettling refugees in Connecticut for over 30 years. This local group, the Refugee Resettlement Committee—Ridgefield (RRCR), will host an information session for the public at the Ridgefield Library on Thursday, September 15 at 10am.
According to IRIS, there are 19 million refugees in the world today, the largest number since World War II. The U.S. Government is inviting 85,000 of those refugees to become Americans in 2016; that number will increase to 100,000 in 2017. Eight hundred are arriving in Connecticut this year; 450 of them will be welcomed by IRIS and its more than 50 state-wide co-sponsors. These refugees will arrive legally, fully vetted, fully documented and with many skills, but most likely without English or money.
As an IRIS co-sponsor, the RRCR will help the family secure affordable housing, find jobs, access language training, and navigate the education, health and social services systems. The goal is that the family be relatively self-sufficient in six months. During that first six months, however, they will need help with transportation and living expenses, so the committee is recruiting volunteer drivers and trying to raise $15,000 for the family.
*Image courtesy of Irisct.org