Church Donates $4 Million to Nine U.S. Refugee Resettlement Agencies for Third Straight Year

Contributed By Scott Taylor, Church News Managing Editor

  • 17 May 2019

Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, right, and Shawn Johnson, second fro left, director of Humanitarian Services, present a grant from the Church for humanitarian needs to Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, second from right, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and Nina Zelic, left, senior director for LIRS Programs, on May 14, 2019.

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are under a heavenly obligation to love God and love our neighbors in better ways.” —Sister Sharon Eubank of the Relief Society General Presidency

For the third consecutive year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated a $4 million grant to nine national refugee resettlement agencies in the United States.

The donation—totalling $1.2 million in cash and in-kind commodities totaling $2.8 million—was given through the Church's Latter-day Saint Charities to the nine East Coast charitable organizations authorized to resettle refugees arriving in the U.S.

“As followers of Jesus Christ, we are under a heavenly obligation to love God and love our neighbors in better ways,” said Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities and First Counselor in the Church’s Relief Society General Presidency.

Sister Eubank visited three resettlement agencies in Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 14, to deliver donations. She continued her visits on Wednesday, May 15, to another three agencies in New York City.

“We are impressed by the innovative approaches refugee resettlement agencies are using to help people learn English, find jobs, and culturally adapt to the United States,” she added. “Our partnership is meant to accelerate the work and highlight ways families can get involved in helping refugee neighbors settle into a new place.”

The nine agencies, which will use the national donations to distribute funds and commodities locally across the country, include:

  • Church World Services, New York City
  • Episcopal Migration Ministries, New York City
  • Ethiopian Community Development Council, Arlington, Virginia
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • International Rescue Committee, New York City
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore, Maryland
  • U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Arlington, Virginia
  • World Relief Corporation, Baltimore, Maryland

Reverend John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, with Sister Sharon Eubank, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, May 15, 2019, in New York City.

This week’s donation mirrors similar donations for the past two years—both in total amount and cash/commodity division. The in-kind donations include food, furniture, mattresses, and other necessities, as well as aid to support programs for arriving refugees.

The Church’s contribution comes from donations received to the its Humanitarian Fund.

Officials of the resettlement agencies expressed appreciation for the donations.

“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is immensely grateful to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the generous gifts of furniture and other in-kind goods for newly arrived refugees, along with self-reliance grants that allow refugees to advance their education and career paths,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO.

“LIRS’s partners in 30 communities across the country utilize the support of the Church to resettle highly vulnerable refugees, including in North Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Massachusetts,” she added. “The Church’s support provides new, high-quality furniture for new arrivals in these communities, and LIRS is proud to count the Church as one of our strongest partners.”

Said Erol Kekic, senior vice president of Church World Service: “Through the generous support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we will be able to provide more critical services to refugee families as they strive to rebuild their lives in the United States and secure a better future for their children. We are grateful for this partnership and for the work we will do together for vulnerable communities across the country.”

Added Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of U.S. programs at the International Rescue Committee: “When refugees first arrive in the United States, they are starting over—building a new life for themselves and their families. Through our partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities, we’re able to ensure that recently resettled refugees have the resources—spanning from furniture in their new apartment and food in the fridge to economic empowerment programs—to start fresh, reclaim their lives, and build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and new communities.”

Nina Zelic, senior director for programs for the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, discusses the needs their organization meets while Shawn Johnson, director of Church Humanitarian Services, listens. Latter-day Saint Charities distributed grants to charities to help in their service to those in need on May 14 and 15, 2019.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, left, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and Kay Bellor, second from right, vice president for LIRS Programs, welcome Sister Sharon Eubank, second on the left, president of Latter-day Saint Charities, and Elissa McConkie, right, manager of Humanitarian Major Initiatives for the Church. Latter-day Saint Charities provided grants to several East Coast charities on May 14 and 15, 2019.