Remembering Sher and a Life Lived for Others

Featured

 

Sher with her CMC student, 2010

Sher with her CMC student, 2010

We celebrate the life of Sher Jasperse  tutor, grant writer, board/committee member of the Catherine McAuley Center for 20 years. Most importantly, we are incredibly blessed to have called her our friend. We miss her dearly, but her generous spirit remains alive here at CMC. Last year, Sher was honored with the Governor’s Volunteer Award, to which she said, “I’m humbled with this award as there are so many worthy volunteers at CMC”.

Her incredible gift for empathy is conveyed in this poem she penned about the Catherine McAuley Center in 2012.For the Catherine McAuley Center   Through the vortex of violence, displacement and refugee camps, she waited long years with her children, unknowing, and came at last to this place.   With no possible future, he hugged his parents and followed his cousins north across the border, riding for days in the back of a truck, unknowing, until he came to this place.   Her sentence served and addictions at bay, she stepped out, hopeful, unknowing. “This time will be different,” she said, “if I can find my place.”   The voices of students and tutors weave a cocoon of sanctuary on a forbidding December day. In this place, said the foundress, “Be sure to give them a cup of tea.” Teach. Shelter. Transform.

It was Sher’s gift of words conveyed through numerous grants and articles that helped the us be where we are today. Her open, embracing nature created an extensive network of friends. “Sher is so open and loving and has faith in the good in people–all people. The way she talked to them, looked at them; she is so accepting of everybody. That is what made her who she is,” says former CMC staff member and friend, Amelia Waddle.

Sher, you carried out the Catherine McAuley Center mission in so many ways, and you touched our lives and the lives of so many. Thank you for giving so much of yourself and showing us the way to live our lives for others. 

Please click on the following links to learn more about Sher’s amazing life, her dedication to our community and the ways she shared so freely of her time, her gifts, and her love.

“All About Giving”– The Gazette

In Her Own Words– Obituary, The Gazette

“Sher Joins Heavenly Writing Team Now”– Metro Sports Report

May Update: Refugee Resettlement

Refugee resettlement is up and running at the Catherine McAuley Center! April brought the arrival of two siblings from Iraq and a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with a Burmese family resettled the first week of May. RefugeeRISE Americorps members, Clark Cunningham-White and Leya Neema, share an update on exciting program milestones and the program’s greatest needs moving forward below.


Welcome hug

After executive orders caused a delay in resettlement, Jacques, a young man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was reunited with his aunt at the Eastern Iowa Airport in late April.

We announced the resettlement program in January, but the first arrival wasn’t until April. What caused the delay and what have you and other Resettlement staff been working on in the meantime?

Clark: There was a series of executive orders that limited the ability of USCRI, our parent resettlement agency, to resettle. We weren’t sure when the first arrivals would occur.

Leya: Also we never really know exactly when a new case will arrive until the last minute. USCRI sends us assurance forms, we assure (take responsibility for) them, then when all the checkpoints are ready to go they could come at any time.

Clark: While we were waiting, we decided to plan wrap-around services for existing students and refugees in our community. We surveyed current students about what kinds of services they would be interested in that CMC doesn’t currently offer. We also looked at other organizations to see what other kinds of volunteer roles could support students.

Leya: We were also working on employment, a lot of intakes, helping students with applications, going on job shadows.

 

How many refugees have arrived through CMC’s Resettlement Program so far?

Clark: Six people from three families, and we just got travel notifications this morning for a family of fourteen. That’s a lot of fufu (a staple food in parts of western and central Africa)!

 

What has the past month looked like for these newcomers since arriving in the U.S.?

Welcome handshake

CMC volunteers welcome a mother and her two grown daughters from Burma at the Eastern Iowa airport

Leya: They’re doing well. We have been assisting them in applying for social security cards, medical insurance, and temporary benefits and cash assistance. We’ve taken them to their initial health screening and two of them have already been to see their new family doctor.

Clark: We’ve also assured that they have a stable household or stable apartment to make sure that where they’re living is safe and that they understand different amenities within their living space.

Leya: They’re also enrolling in schools—whether it’s an ESL program for adults or K-12 education for the one minor we’ve worked with.

 

How many more refugees are expected to be resettled by CMC this year?

Leya: Originally we had 29 assured before the family of 14. Out of that we’ve resettled six. The rest of those could arrive at any time.

 

What kinds of physical items are needed for a new refugee family, and why do we have a lot of very specific items on our wishlist? What impact do those donations have?

Clark: USCRI provides us a list of required goods we have to make sure that the family receives. Everything from food and cleaning supplies to furniture is needed.

Leya: Some of these are items seem oddly specific to us, but if we’re giving a family canned goods, they’re certainly going to need a can opener, too. They’re things the family won’t really be used to or know to ask for.

Clark: It’s also really important because if we did not get these items from an in-kind donation, that cost would come from the limited funds for the refugee. You’re lessening the financial burden for the refugee as well through these donations. We’re really grateful for all the donors who have supported this program so far.

Leya: (Looking at wish list) We’re really in need of these items. The family of fourteen will be arriving on May 26th, so the bigger items like beds and dressers are needed now and faster than ever.

Clark: We’ll also need car seats for this family. We haven’t worked with children in these first few cases but a lot of baby items are actually needed now.

 

How can someone get involved to support this program?

Leya: Well, for example, for the family of fourteen, there will be two to three apartments that will need to be set up. So apart from donating all of these wonderful items, we’ll also need help setting up the house.

Most adults we are resettling are employable, so having someone volunteer to be a job coach is needed as well. And for anyone who has a business and is willing to hire a refugee, contact us.

Clark: Yes, we can make suggestions about going through the orientation to make it easier for the employer to have refugees as employees.

Leya: We can always work with the employer–

Clark: –to have a mutually beneficial relationship.

May 3 Arrival


A Note from Kristin, Volunteer Coordinator:

There are many ways to support the resettlement program. As Leya said, there is a need to help get refugees moved into their new homes. We are looking for volunteers to help with everything from heavy lifting of furniture to unpacking boxes!  We also have identified the need for a few new and exciting volunteer opportunities which are listed below.

  • Friendship Exchange: Be a friend to a refugee or immigrant family by sharing meals, celebrating holidays together, or helping with answers to questions as they navigate a new culture.
  • Job Coach: Help create resumes, access employment services, and complete online applications.
  • Interpreter: Offer interpretation services to refugee families who are struggling to connect to resources due to a language barrier.
  • Transportation volunteer: Provide a ride to important appointments and meetings for immigrant and refugee families who don’t have transportation.

Each of these new roles will require attending a two hour orientation and completing a volunteer interview.  Our next orientation will be Thursday, May 18th, at 6pm at the main center located at 866 4th Ave SE.  Interested volunteers can register for this orientation by emailing me at kristin@cmc-cr.org.

Staff Chat: Tutors

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we sat down to chat with Anne, Katie, and Leeann from our Education staff team to hear about the impact they see volunteer tutors make every day! 

Tutor OrientationWhat are some of your favorite moments or memories of working with tutors?

Anne: [Tom] is just outstanding.

Katie: He’s just a very lovely, gentle human being.

Leeann: Tom comes for three hours every Saturday. He comes a half hour early and does language study of Spanish on his own in the space, and then he just hangs out, and if the students cancel he’s totally fine. He’s there as a resource.

Anne: Yeah, he’s not just coming for the students, he’s coming for the staff as well. He’s kind of fantastic.

Leeann: He doesn’t ask for anything, but comes here for opportunities to learn and grow which is really fun to watch. He asks a lot of good questions, like if there’s a grammar concept he doesn’t know, he really likes to learn from us. So he hangs out, does his own thing. And he’s really lovely with the students and can work with anyone. And then… he brings us food. It is so nice!

Anne: There’s always Dennis, and the jokes.

Katie: A lot of folk songs as well.

Anne: After every session, everybody wants him as a teacher.

Katie: He also just jumps in and does anything that needs to be done. One morning there was a tutor orientation and we were totally slammed, and he was greeting the new volunteers and showing them down to the basement without anyone asking him to do that! He was just like, “People need to know where to go.”

Anne: Duronda just came back from her winter travels. The whole time she has been sending postcards and letters to her students. And I know Linda wrote and sent e-mails while she was gone. We laugh that we lose so many tutors during the winter, but they really do stay in contact, even if they don’t have the same student when they come back. They’re still connected even while they’re away on vacation or for longer periods. It’s pretty amazing!

And I just talked to Elias about his [former] Citizenship tutor, Matt. I wrote to Matt and asked if I could give Elias his phone number. He wrote back that Elias, his integrity and his will to learn is the reason that they continue to support the Center. I think all of the tutors are affected as well as the students.

Leeann: I think Citizenship brings a lot of engagement from tutors, too. I’m thinking about Wes. Back in March Sahrakef’s ceremony was in Davenport and he drove over for the ceremony.

Anne: Citizenship ceremonies—every time we go the tutor is there. That’s not uncommon.

 

What is the most inspiring thing about the volunteers you work with?

Anne: Honestly, on any given day, while we may be swamped because of all the people in here and everything that’s happening, the fact is the place runs because of them. We don’t have a job, we don’t have the opportunity to help or the opportunity to engage to this degree without the greased wheel of communication through tutors. What they’re offering to us is pretty impressive.

And when I tell people we have 350 volunteer tutors, I always hear this audible gasp. This is happening all the time, every day, in the middle of Cedar Rapids. It’s just amazing to me!

Katie: It’s really cool, too, at orientations when we ask people why they’re here, how many say, “Because my friend told me” or “because my mom comes here” and how that word of mouth spreads from person to person. I think that’s a testament to how the tutors are not only serving us here in the building. They also reach out into the broader community.

Anne: I really hope they know that every time we write a thank you, send an e-mail, put it on the board, put it on the wonderful birthday cards we love to do, I hope they understand how deeply that it’s meant. There’s no doubt about that.

Anne: We like ‘em.

Katie: We’ll keep ‘em.

Leeann: We like ‘em, we’ll keep ‘em. (laughs)

 

To all volunteer tutors, thank you for the time, knowledge, and skills you share with your study partners. Your commitment is noticed and your compassion is appreciated!

Volunteers Build Connections

Interview groupBy Jennifer Tibbetts

Volunteers are an integral part of the rebuilding of hope, sense of self, and connections that we do at CMC. Volunteer groups are interwoven throughout the housing program at CMC and offer educational and social opportunities for residents. Through volunteer interactions, women build skills to then become engaged in the community through their own acts of volunteerism.

One of my more recent favorite memories is when the Mount Mercy University Enactus group hosted a mock job fair for residents, which was the finale of a series of employment skill-building sessions. The group arranged for several local business leaders to volunteer their time to conduct interviews with women in the housing program to practice their new interview and employment skills.

Mock interviewThe night of the mock interviews, it turned out that all of the volunteer business leaders were female. Seeing an opportunity for connection, I decided to ask the volunteers to share a little about their journey to where they are today. This started a truly powerful discussion as the female businesswomen shared their successes and struggles, building bridges with residents’ stories. You could see that the residents connected to their stories which were helping residents to regain a sense of hope for their own lives. These volunteers had a larger impact than their original “assignment.”

Many other volunteers and groups help build the same sense of hope and connection in the Transitional Housing program through their service. The Soroptimists cook and share a weekly meal with residents, and a group of Master Gardeners teach valuable skills in garden preparation, care, and harvesting.

If you want to learn more about ways to support skill-building and connection in the Transitional Housing Program, please contact volunteer@cmc-cr.org.

Jennifer TibbettsJennifer is the Transitional Housing Program Manager and has used her 18 years of experience in social services to implement female-responsive programming at CMC. Jennifer is proud to be a part of a mission-driven organization like the Catherine McAuley Center and feels privileged to be in a role in which she can help create a safe and supportive environment that allows women to realize their own potential. In her free time Jennifer finds creative ways to be an advocate for women throughout the state, and organizes community groups and female-led initiatives that allow women to connect and find their voice.

The Power of Words

Door opening, welcoming Nervous to take the step into the professional world with an internship required to complete my English degree at Mount Mercy University, I came to the Catherine McAuley Center hoping to be able to use my passion of helping others through writing. Through my internship in the Development and Communications Department at CMC, I have been able to expand my passion for writing in a professional setting. I have also seen firsthand the impact the Center’s programs have on adult learners and women who are overcoming past trauma.

Having a loved one who has participated in other supportive living programs throughout the State of Iowa, the Transitional Housing Program caught my attention right away. The Transitional Housing Program offers a chance of a brighter future for women overcoming trauma, homelessness, and in some cases, substance abuse. The Center provides the women with a safe place to live while they take the necessary steps to overcome their Hand sharing pencils for writingpersonal obstacles, and offers classes for women to take to help build their life skills and to recover from trauma. While meeting with the Housing staff, I learned about a resident writing group that is offered to help the women with their writing skills and aid the recovery process. My own belief in the power of words to transform lives drove me to participate in the group.

In my first visit to the writing group,  I was fortunate enough to witness how the power of words can move women to greatness. To start off the class, we were told to write instructions of how we wake up and get ready for our days. While we began to write our answers, one of the women began talking to me, and in response, another woman whispered with a light in her eyes, “SHH!! This is my favorite time of the week.” The passion in the swift flick of her wrist forming words moved us to silence, and we too began to write.

A few minutes later, the women were asked if they wanted to share what they wrote. After one woman shared, the one who hushed us began to read her passage. Powerfully, she told us how she wakes up every morning, and how she has to overcome her personal obstacles every time her alarm goes off. She told us of her strength and power as a woman with the eloquence of Maya Angelou.Maya Angelou's picture and quote from her poem "And Still I Rise" Through the power of her words, she shared that despite her struggle of waking up with the knowledge of her past overwhelming her—she still thanks God for giving her another day to live, and she counts each day as a blessing. She gave me the strength to wake up every morning believing that life is worth living. Not only did writing help her in her daily struggle, it gave her the time and the tools to inspire others in the room to do the same.

Words are powerful. The writing group is giving these women the stepping stone to strengthen themselves through the empowerment of writing. Just like Maya Angelou wrote, “Up from the past that’s rooted in pain / I rise.”  In just one hour per week, these women are rising up and defeating their limitations through the power of writing.

By Abby Herb, Development and Communications Intern

International Women’s Day

Today, people across the globe will observe International Women’s Day to recognize the achievements of women everywhere. At CMC, we are celebrating International Women’s Day by having conversations with women in our CMC community about what it means to be a woman. This week, and every week, we are so proud of everything these women have accomplished!

What does it mean to be a woman?

 

Yamile (Colombia):  That’s a good question because women have a lot of, you know, meanings. We are just, a human being, but we are so complex… I think we represent a feminism, I don’t know how do you say. Femininidad? Femininity. And that’s a big difference that separate us from men. And to talk in some lovely words, we are full of love to give to other people… I think we are so, in a balance? Mhm, we are just not like, brain. We just do things with your heart and you think at the same time with your mind and your heart at the same time, you know?

Ying Ying (China):  [It’s] God’s gift!

Sahrakef (Somalia):  Without women there was nothing possible, even the God choosed women. Man… he say the man cannot live alone by himself without women. So he choosed it, to bring women there… We are just two parts, so the one powerful part it comes from women. It’s very important. Women they are very important, I’m so glad to be a woman.

Grace (China):  It’s so hard. A lot of burden, and some people, you know, your husband, whenever your husband doesn’t understand you it’s so hard to explain… [you have to] find a balance, you have to devote your time and energy to your family and at the same time to your job.

 

Why are you proud to be a woman?

 

Bahareh (Iran):  You know, I like [that] I’m woman, but, that’s just for me, you know? I like always do all the man do. You know, for example, I learned the business. I like that, you know, I like the hard business. Before I had my business when I was in my country. I always have hard job like all the man do. But, you know, I think so when you woman you can feel everything more, you know? You can love everything. I think so like that. You can love everything more, your kids, you can talk more, more easily.

Maria (Mexico): I’m proud to be a woman because you can give birth to a child, you can take care of your kids, and you can um… I don’t know. Do many things like do your hair, do your nails… I’m proud to be a woman.

Ying-Ying (China):  Yeah, the mom is the first example. A good example for the child… the woman, the mom, is important. Because the dad, always no time to spend with education for the child. So if we are just like, a house woman, it is a big job.

Yamile (Colombia):  Oh, just the fact that you are a woman that should make you proud because, you know, we are, how do you say? Like, how do you say ‘guerrera’ in English? Warrior. Yeah! That’s us! Like going for something and there are women that maybe get frustrated with some things in their lives, but we just have to invite them to be warriors too. To overcome the things. I don’t know, I think it’s just special being a woman you know. Like starting from the body because we are designed to have babies, and that’s so important.

 

Do you have any advice for young girls about being a woman?

 

Maria (Mexico):  Yes. I want to teach her to be proud of herself, to have a career, to study, and be, to be prepared for the future.

Grace (China):  For themselves they should have a moral standard higher than expectation. Because I think that the whole country is going to be decided by the feminine because our job is to bring up the next generation, which is the most important thing. If we don’t do a good job, how can our country grow up? So I think we do the main characteristic in our society, so the girls, the feminine, in general is more important.

Bahareh (Iran):  If somebody has a wish, they just have to go and go for it. You know what’s that mean? They have to just try and do everything they can to reach their wish, you know? They have to. If I was maybe 20 years again, maybe I would, I would do more, you know, for my life. But I did too much, you know? I always work, and I did too much. But, if again, I was younger I would do everything for my… what’s the name? For my target, yeah. Never stop.

 

Do you have anything else you want to say about International Women’s Day?

 

Sahrakef (Somalia): I am just sending a message for the other women who have been suffering about this world… But my message is that this is a part of the life. I’m sending my other women, all my sisters in this world, whoever suffering, I’m just telling them: be strong! Everybody, they gonna have their own day. They will have a better life, and they will have the things is gonna get good and change whatever issue they have. Be strong. We are under God, we are in one world. We will get better life. And God gonna remove all, whatever issue. So I pray for them, and I’m sorry for them. That’s my message. That’s what I’m saying.

 

Happy International Women’s Day from the Catherine McAuley Center!

 

Trauma-Informed Yoga Offered to Residents

Mindfulness brings awareness to the present moment, increasing feelings of safety and control.

Thanks to Support Services Coordinator, Chelsea DeLarm, residents now have the opportunity to practice “mindfulness”, or focusing awareness on the present moment’s thoughts and sensations, through yoga!

Yoga instruction at CMC is trauma-informed, meaning special care is taken to make the practice useful and accessible to women who have experienced past trauma. Chelsea says that she never touches or re-positions students, assures safety in the practice room by keeping her eyes open at all times so residents can close their eyes in meditation, and tailors poses to the physical abilities of people in the class.

Chelsea DeLarm

Support Services Coordinator, Chelsea DeLarm

For example, one recent yoga class included “chair yoga” with poses specifically designed for being seated in a chair so that women with physical disabilities could participate. Before becoming an instructor, Chelsea completed an intensive three-day certification process and continues to research how she can make yoga accessible to residents with specific challenges such as hearing impairment.

The goal of yoga at CMC is simply to focus on breathing and the mind-body connection. While concentrating in this way, residents are able to recognize why they are thinking or feeling what they are at that moment, increasing feelings of safety and control.

Somali yoga

Photo courtesy of VOA.

Chelsea says she can see that residents are often tense and unsure of themselves before class, but relaxed and confident after a half hour of yoga. Chelsea says residents often share a meal after their Thursday yoga class and become more open to talking and often comment, ” This is the only time I can relax,” and “I can move this side of my body more easily!”

Trauma-informed yoga is not unique to the Catherine McAuley Center. The practice has been used to aid people of all backgrounds throughout the world, including trauma-survivors in Somalia!

You can learn more about trauma-informed yoga by visiting Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga.

Protecting and Building Communities in Cedar Rapids

Last week at the Cedar Rapids Public Library the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission hosted the event, “Forum on Protecting Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian Communities.” This educational program focused on the definition of “hate crimes,” and included presentations and panels discussing the legislative processes, local resources, and opportunities to assist affected communities.

The Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) consistently works with diverse, and oftentimes marginalized, groups. In 2016 the Adult Basic Education Program alone had 404 students representing 49 countries from around the world. Taking opportunities like this forum to learn how to advocate and protect members of our CMC community aligns with our values– supporting inclusive communities that welcome, respect, and support a diversity of individuals and ideas. Communication and Administrative Intern, Madison Clark, attended the event due to her belief in this tenet, and to share this valuable information with a wider audience!

What is a hate crime?

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Iowa Department of Human Rights, and the Anti-Defamation League of the Plains States Region explained that hate crimes are difficult to prosecute due to their nature. Unlike most other crimes, the prosecutor is expected to prove the motive of the defendants instead of simply proving the crime happened. 

A hate crime can include, but is not limited to:

  • Violent acts enacted on a person, their property, or a place of worship,
  • Threats of violence,
  • Attempts to intimidate or interfere with living
  • Obstruction of free exercise
  • Conspiracy against rights
  • Trespassing

Hate crimes are not common in Iowa, and are especially uncommon within the Cedar Rapids community. Knowing the scope of potential issues will simply help community members continue to protect the individual rights of everyone who call Cedar Rapids their home.

When and to whom should concerns be reported?

According to the law enforcement panel, hate crimes go tremendously under-reported. This means that the current data being worked from is not covering the full scope of issues being faced by marginalized communities. With this in mind, the representatives made it overwhelmingly clear that individuals should report any concerns to their local law enforcement, even if it’s only a suspicion, and that they should be reported right away.

The panel explained that the possibility of something being a hate crime, regardless of whether or not it’s prosecuted that way, is always noted. This is so future incidents might have better evidence behind them that could enable victims receive justice. Basically, if it looks and feels like a hate crime, law enforcement will respond to it as such.

If there’s been an incident that could potentially be a hate crime, call the non-emergency number, or 911, depending on the urgency of the situation.

How can we address the growing tensions?

The community panel, including representatives from the Eastern Iowa Islam, Sikh, and Hindu communities, followed the law enforcement panel. This group spent time discussing how recent political tensions have increased the threat of hate crimes towards their communities, as well as what others might be able to do to help.

Overwhelmingly, the community members agreed that what would have the greatest effect would be getting the Cedar Rapids community involved in education sessions about each group. They felt that educating and increasing community awareness would lead to a more enriched community through diversity and new perspectives. Each group’s community center offers trainings, tours, and will welcome anyone interested in learning more. They also expressed a willingness to collaborate with other community groups, businesses, or schools on events ranging from volunteering to positive media campaigns supporting diversity.

When a crime motivated by bias occurs, it reverberates throughout all communities. This forum aimed to say, “You are not alone,” to the people of many diverse perspectives and practices who call Cedar Rapids their home. Many groups have started to see a rise in threats and tensions over the last few years, and it’s the responsibility of Cedar Rapids residents to create a safe and inviting community for everyone. CMC aims to supports this effort, and believes everyone has, and should continue to have, the potential to create and live a purposeful and fulfilling life.

Executive Order’s Effect on Refugee Resettlement at CMC

A recent executive order by President Donald Trump regarding refugee resettlement in the United States has, of course, impacted the Catherine McAuley Center.

Our main concern, however, is the effect this order has on the thousands of people who have waited years to be resettled in the U.S.– people who have already faced persecution, war, and other trauma in their home country and are hopeful for a new opportunity for safety and freedom. Many who already call America home are waiting for their wife, husband, child or other family member to join them… and now must wait.

Over the past month, the Catherine McAuley Center has accepted responsibility to resettle about a dozen refugee cases consisting of over 30 people who have U.S. ties (a friend or family member who has agreed to support the refugee’s transition to the U.S.) in Iowa City, Columbus Junction and Cedar Rapids. Thanks to our partners at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, we were prepared to welcome these new friends  into the U.S. in the coming weeks, in some cases only waiting for final confirmation of travel plans. Now, it will be months or longer before we meet them.

The Catherine McAuley Center stands firm in our commitment to welcome and support future newcomers. While we know that the recent executive orders will delay nearly 90,000 refugees who were expected to resettle in the U.S. in 2017 in fulfilling their dreams while their lives remain in jeopardy, we remain hopeful. With YOUR support and action, we can change the outcome for the nation’s tens of thousands of incoming refugees, including the thirty people who were anticipated to settle in Eastern Iowa with the assistance of the Catherine McAuley Center.

We will attempt to keep information up to date through our Facebook page and our website. Please know that new information is coming in at a rapid pace, so your best source for current information on this issue, at this point, is through reliable news media.

Thank you so much for your support of the CMC mission, and most importantly, your support of refugees, immigrants, and women. We must each take action individually and encourage others to take action to make our voices heard for what we believe represents our U.S. values and basic principles of democracy.

Gratefully,

Paula Land
Executive Director

New Refugee Resettlement Program

Dear Friends,

We have big news!

PaulaFor more than 27 years, the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) has used our expertise in the education and human services fields to support our students’ and residents’ connectedness with the wider community, helping them build communication and life skills that enable them to achieve their goals. Starting in 2017, we’ll expand our expertise and mission to offer hope and opportunity to some of Cedar Rapids’ newest residents—refugees.

brighter-futures-towerWe live in an age of humanitarian crisis in which more than 65 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes due to devastating conflicts. Of these millions, the U.S. is anticipated to welcome 110,000 refugees in the coming year. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), one of the nation’s leading refugee resettlement agencies, found Cedar Rapids to be an ideal site for expanded resettlement because of our community’s low cost of living, stable job market, and strong healthcare, educational and social services networks.

To expand on local resettlement efforts conducted for the last decade by Catholic Charities, USCRI identified CMC as an agency with strong capacity to undertake such an initiative. Beyond our supportive team of 600+ volunteers and 800+ donors are two new RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members to help us launch this exciting new program. CMC has a history of adapting to meet real human needs through our Adult Basic Education and Transitional Housing programs. Refugee Resettlement is another opportunity to help meet an urgent need in today’s world.

Refugee resettlement is not just an opportunity to meet a need—it’s an opportunity to enrich the Cedar Rapids community through diversity and new perspectives. Building upon our rich immigrant heritage, our newest residents will also help our community to grow and thrive. With these new efforts, we anticipate greater collaboration among community agencies which will not only benefit refugees, but other community members as well.

The support of the CMC community has been a constant source of encouragement. As we turn the page and enter a new chapter of CMC history, we wanted you to be among the first to know and invite you to get involved and help create a safe and inviting community for our new neighbors!

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness and generosity. The CMC staff, board of directors, and I are excited to share this new chapter with you as we pave the way for safety, freedom, new beginnings, and opportunity.

With hope,
Paula copy
Paula Land
Executive Director

12 Days of Giving

On the first day of giving, I gave to CMC…

Has the holiday season inspired you to give back? Find out-of-the-box ways to offer hope and opportunity during the 12 Days of Giving (and all year long) below! The 2016 Holiday Food & Supply Drive is sponsored by Amerigroup.

 

1st-day-of-givingDay 1– Proceeds from my purchases at Amazon Smile!

When you shop at smile.amazon.com and designate CMC as your chosen charity, Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the Center.

 

 

 

 

 

2nd-day-of-givingDay 2– Items from our Amazon.com wishlist

Help fulfill our greatest material needs while skipping the drop-off. Have your donation shipped straight to the Center!

 

 

 

 

 

3rd-day-of-givingDay 3– A visit to the Alternative Gift Market (Cedar Rapids) on Saturday, December 3 at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center! 

Get a head start on holiday shopping with MEANINGFUL gifts! Support local and global organizations with honorary donations that have tangible results– $42 buys a workbook and teacher’s guide for a student-tutor pair!

 

 

 

 

4th-day-of-giving-1Day 4- An hour a week to tutor an adult learner.

On any given day up to 90 students are waiting for someone like you to help them learn English, improve basic academic skills, or study for the U.S. citizenship exam. No teaching experience required! Sign up for a tutor orientation at https://cmc-cr.org/volunteer/new-tutor-orientation/

 

 

 

 

5th-day-of-giving-1Day 5- An hour to tour the Center!

Come tour our facilities and see the impact up close. Even if you’ve been familiar with us a while, you’ll still learn something new! Double your  impact by bringing a friend. Sign up for a tour at https://cmc-cr.org/tours/

 

 

 

 

6th-day-of-givingDay 6- Dollars to spare to pay it forward.

Skipping the peppermint mocha just once a week in December could cover a resident’s first week of rent! Every dollar makes a difference! Online giving available here.

 

 

 

 

 

7th-day-of-givingDay 7- The gift of leaving a legacy!

Planned gifts like stock, real estate, life insurance, bequests, and more can support the Center years into the future. You’ll be among the many other members of our Mission Society who understand their plans today will help CMC offer hope and opportunity for years to come.

 

 

 

 

8th-day-of-givingDay 8- Hosting a food & supply drive to fill the pantry shelves!

We have the promotional materials, signs, and collection bins to make it easy! Partner with your church, club, or workplace (like Rockwell Collins employees above) to collect CMC’s most needed items like dried rice & beans, cleaning supplies, and new twin sheets, pillows, & towel sets!

 

 

 

 

9th-day-of-givingDay 9- Likes and shares, and stories to spread the word!

YOU are our greatest advocate! Students and residents– what have you learned in your time at CMC? Tutors– what is your favorite moment from tutoring? What impact have you seen in our community?

Tell your friends these meaningful stories on your social media accounts, and don’t forget to tag CMC! We’re on Facebook, Twitter (@cmccr), LinkedIn, and Youtube!

 

 

 

10th-day-of-giving Day 10- Time spent welcoming and supporting refugees.

In the coming year we plan to expand the ways we support refugees, many of whom are already students at the Center! Sign up to volunteer to cook a warm meal, provide transportation, help with grocery shopping, teach computer and job skills and more!

 

 

 

 

11th-day-of-givingDay 11- Hosting a fundraiser for the Center!

Pick something fun that you and your club, church, or other group enjoy– from a pancake breakfast to a charity car show like the Cedar Rapids Corvette Club hosts each year!

 

 

 

 

 

12th-day-of-givingDay 12- Stuff for Stuff Etc Quality Consignment!

Use your holiday break to clear out a closet, then bring your gently used clothing, housewares, and other items to Stuff Etc. in Cedar Rapids (Blairs Ferry Rd.) or Coralville in the Catherine McAuley Center’s name.

Call ahead, drop off, request a donation receipt, and CMC will receive the proceeds, which can add up to hundreds of dollars each year!

 

 

This post and coordination of 2016 food and supply drive efforts is sponsored by

Amerigroup

Questions? Call Kelsey at 319.731.0448