Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program
Catholic Charities Resettlement Program is a very popular service learning opportunity offered to Loyola students. Catholic Charities’ Patrick Costanzo describes the partnership as a win for the agency because it increases volunteers and increases resources and funding.
In one aspect of the program, the Befriending Program, students participate in direct service by conducting home visits to refugee families. Students are paired with specific clients and meet with them to help with their assimilation and acculturation. The house visits allow students to form very strong bonds with the families and develop a level of trust that allows students to turn into advocates for the families. This type of relationship gives case managers a better understanding of what the families need. A lot of refugees deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD and the bonds they form with the students help them feel less isolated and make getting help a more viable option.
Another aspect of Catholic Charities Resettlement Program is its weekly tutoring sessions. The program helps kids grades K-12 with homework and helps them integrate themselves into the education system. The program meets in public libraries around Rogers Park on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 3:30-5:30pm and is always looking for more volunteers.
Patrick says “the more volunteers we have the better.” Catholic Charities can always use more students to help with their programs that extend beyond the befriending and tutoring programs and include a women’s group that is helping refugee women find markets for their handmade products. The relationship between Catholic Charities and Loyola has been a very positive one. Both sides have benefitted tremendously and will continue to do so as the program expands and develops in new directions.