We recently received the following letter from Meg Distler and Holly Chaille and believe it will be of interest to many of you.
Beginning in 2007, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation with the full support of our sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, began working closely with grantees and community partners to address the needs (especially health related) of the estimated 2,500 to 3,000 newly arriving Burmese refugees throughout 2007, 2008, and 2009 to the greater Fort Wayne area. Together with community partners, the Foundation was fortunate to compete for and receive approximately $2.7M in refugee resettlement grants. These grant monies were distributed among many area agencies enabling the establishment of refugee integration services and in 2008, the opening of the Community Resource Center for Refugees, now known as Catherine Kasper Place at 2826 South Calhoun Street. This was made possible by a most generous offer from the AWS Foundation who loaned the use of their building.
Twelve community partners and agencies have together provided services to an average of over 25,000 refugee/immigrant visitors annually, since the fall of 2008, from our location on South Calhoun Street. Individuals were assisted in transitioning to this community with a variety of services including, but not limited to:
- Over 1,850 individuals benefited from healthcare education, medical interpretation and navigation assistance programming;
- Over 600 participated in English language classes and 72 community volunteers were trained as English language instructors;
- 118 received formal training on public transportation systems and
several hundreds were assisted with bus passes to navigate the community;
- 580 individuals received employment and job readiness skills training, and
- Over 15,700 items of clothing, furniture, household items and food donated by local individuals and churches were also distributed helping refugees establish homes.
To continue this important work, in May 2010, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and its sponsor officially launched their newest ministry, Catherine Kasper Place, as a new organization focused on advancing the Poor Handmaids’ commitment to help refugees and immigrants successfully integrate with the local community.
It is gratifying to see the results of our, and all of our partners’, hard work, as we watch refugees successfully find jobs, understand how to better maintain their health, and learn to navigate American systems and culture. However, the number of refugees arriving locally has dramatically decreased and the projection for 2012 is significantly lower, at 170 individuals. Simultaneously, the federal support of grants has also significantly decreased in 2011. Understandably, the needs of the refugee population have changed as well. After careful scrutiny of community and refugee needs, as well as available resources, both Catherine Kasper Place and the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation have decided that by mid February 2012:
- The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation will be relocating its offices from 2826 South Calhoun Street, returning to its former neighborhood at 347 West Berry Street, to continue its focus on community health and wellness issues of low income, vulnerable individuals. From this new location, the Foundation will continue to operate the video conferencing, electronic-based Medical Interpretation & Healthcare Navigation program, to provide low-cost, quality communication assistance and improve the health literacy of an estimated 1,000 refugees annually. This will be in addition to continuing its core ministry of providing grants to approximately 45 local agencies annually and operating health initiatives that improve the long term health of the community while respecting life and the dignity of each person in our community.
- Catherine Kasper Place will be relocating its programming office to 5919 Salisbury Drive, in the Autumn Woods Apartment complex, joining several other refugee-serving agencies in offering neighborhood-based programs. Services at this site will begin the first week in January and will include enhanced community liaison assistance, job development training and the Fresh Food Initiative. CKP will maintain an administrative office with the Foundation at 347 West Berry.
- The Foundation and Catherine Kasper Place are working with each of the partners and programs operating out of 2826 South Calhoun Street to assist them in repositioning their services to best realize their missions and to serve the current and projected needs of the refugee and immigrant populations. As a result, most of the current programming will be relocated out of 2826 South Calhoun Street. Simultaneously, the property owner, AWS Foundation, is working with several local groups interested in using the 2826 South Calhoun Street facility to provide services to the Fort Wayne community.
As we determine our next steps to advance our ministries in 2012 and beyond, we want to acknowledge some of our most significant partners in serving the refugee population.
- Adams Township Trustee
- Advantage Health Solutions
- American Red Cross MIX
- AWS Foundation
- Burmese Advocacy Center
- Burmese Muslim Community
- Catholic Charities
- Crime Victim Care of Allen County
- City of Fort Wayne and Mayor Tom Henry
- Congressmen Marlin Stutzman
- East Allen County Schools
- Fort Wayne-Allen County Dept. of Health
- Indiana State Dept. of Family & Social Services Administration
- Indiana State Dept. of Health
- Indiana Refugee Coordinator
- Industrial Training Solutions
- Ivy Tech Community College
- Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
- Parkview Health Systems
- Senator Richard Lugar
- Super Shot
- The Reclamation Project
Again, we are grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside these wonderful community partners. We ask that you continue to include this important work, and the people we serve, in your thoughts and prayers.
St. Joseph Community Health Foundation
Catherine Kasper Place