After 30 years, some things stay the same . . .
This year, KRM honors 30 years. Thirty years of airport arrivals and apartment setups. Thirty years of saying, “Welcome to Kentucky!” Thirty years of learning bus routes. Thirty years of ESL classes. Thirty years of sharing culture and language. Thirty years of building bridges. Thirty years of creating community.
In recent years, there has been immense change to resettlement and asylum in the United States. These two programs have been attacked repeatedly during this administration. And, refugees and asylum seekers themselves face attacks on their dignity and humanity each day. With so much happening, it can be overwhelming for anyone to stay engaged and informed.
As we recognize 30 years and immense growth at KRM, we want you to know that a few things haven’t changed.
Families are still rebuilding . . .
Refugees are arriving. Despite the fact that this year, the U.S. committed to its lowest ever refugee admissions goal — 18,000 — families are still arriving. By April 1, KRM expects to have welcomed 98 refugees in Louisville and 45 refugees in Lexington, totaling 143 people. We hope to resettle over 300 refugees this program year. Soon, we also hope to return to welcoming even more families, such as when over 1,100 refugees were resettled through KRM during one program year.
Cubans, too, are still arriving in the U.S. Their journeys through multiple countries to reach the U.S. southern border are arduous and risky. Most are placed in detention centers for months. Some can apply for asylum in detention while others wait until they make it to Kentucky. Despite the changes between U.S.-Cuba relations, the Cuban community in Kentucky continues to grow.
The reasons refugees and asylum-seekers flee have not changed. People are still looking for safety for themselves and their families. No matter the challenges they face, families will continue searching for that safety. No matter what happens, families continue moving forward and into their future.
Newcomers are still strengthening Kentucky . . .
Once here, families continue to make the most of a new home. Kids start school. Parents attend ESL classes at KRM. The whole family adjusts to new schedules that are full of appointments, apprehensions, and excitement. There are soccer games, parent teacher conferences, visits to the park, and first days of at a new job.
In fact, there are many first days of work. The bustling employment teams in Louisville and Lexington have placed people in between 765 and 1,112 jobs in each of the last five years. Strengthening our home is about more than just increasing the tax base or filling available jobs, though. That impact does matter, but it’s also about bringing new perspectives and cultures to our community. It’s about sharing ideas, broadening worldviews, and living out the American tradition of welcoming.
During 30 years, families have resettled from all over the globe. Being a Kentuckian can now also mean being from — or having family from — Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, Burundi, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Vietnam, among others.
Multicultural generations who grow up in Kentucky have dreams just like any child or young adult would. We look forward to seeing what the next 30 years will bring and what these Kentuckians will achieve.
We are still working . . .
This work is ongoing and full of challenging and inspiring opportunities. Families share their dreams and struggles, helping to create services that improve their lives and the lives of others.
After 30 years, what can this look like day to day?
It looks like job fairs held at KRM for teens and young adults who want to help support their families. Summer programs for students who want to explore, learn, and meet friends but who don’t have access to camp.
It looks like home visits to someone who is struggling with missing their country and starting anew. Partnerships with medical providers to discuss language access and culturally-competent care. Day programs with elderly refugees to foster community for a population that so often feels left behind.
It looks like citizenship classes that help Kentuckians prepare for the civics test they are required to pass to become a U.S. citizen. Meetings with families to help with immigration applications to reunite with a child, become a permanent resident, or to gain asylum and the ability to stay in the country.
After 30 years, this continuum of support at KRM has grown and strengthened.
You are still with uS . . .
This work is not possible without you, and you have been with us for 30 years. As co-sponsor teams, you prepare for new families by furnishing their apartments, take them on the bus, and practice English and other languages together.
As volunteers, you help staff in the office, organize community events, and visit families in their homes. As agency partners, you rent houses to newcomers, offer health screenings, and hire employees who are ready to get back to work. As community leaders, you fund programs, sponsor events, and organize donation drives. As individuals, you share this mission with your friends and family. You offer support in unique and meaningful ways.
You have given KRM 30 years of gratitude. Thank you for encouraging hope for families who are making Kentucky home. We are grateful you are still with us.
All year long, we will be sharing how your partnership has impacted our community and ways you can honor this 30-year history.