We caught up with Mark Kadel (Director of World Relief Spokane) in an interview to share with you exactly what World Relief Spokane does, and how you and I can get involved.
(World Relief is the missional arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.)
GSAE: Mark, can you first paint us a picture with a broad brush about what ‘World Relief Spokane’ does?
Kadel: World Relief Spokane currently provides refugee resettlement assistance, employment services, Microenterprise loans, and immigration services. We also work to raise awareness of human trafficking and to serve its victims. Our work depends heavily on volunteer and church support, both financial and in other practical ways. Our volunteer orientation and refugee simulation program provides invaluable information, training, and opportunities for anyone who is looking to work with refugees or victims of human trafficking and would like to volunteer for a Christian non-profit ministry.
GSAE: So tell me, does World Relief cooperate with the US State Department or the Immigration & Naturalization Service on resettling refugees ?
Kadel: World Relief does contract with DOS (Department of State), DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services) to provide services to refugees, immigrants, and victims of human trafficking. All federal contracts allow us to maintain our Christian ethics and hiring practices, as well as our faith based Case Management, as long as we don’t proselytize the clients we serve. We can evangelize, just not proselytize.
GSAE: Now give us a picture of what that looks like on a day-to-day basis from the perspective of the World Relief staff.
Kadel: Each of our departments look a little different.
Our Resettlement and Match Grant Departments assist refugee and Asylees in their resettlement process here in Spokane. Each has a federal contract to provide a number of core services from airport arrival such as enrolling adults in English classes, job search assistance, medical screenings, applying for benefits, and enrolling children in school.
Our Employment Services Department trains refugees how to complete an application, prepare for an interview, find a job, learn what employers expect and also what they can expect from employers. They help connect willing employers with the best refugee clients and follow up to make sure they are a successful placement.
Our Immigration Legal Services staff work hard to adjust immigration statuses and green cards, prepare for Citizenship, and complete immigration forms for relatives.
Our Volunteer and Church Engagement Department works to train church-based volunteers how to work with refugees, to engage church ministries in local missions, to market the World Relief brand, and to connect with local media to make sure accurate information is being published about our work.
Our Anti-Trafficking Department works to raise awareness of modern day slavery in our community, speaks at mission conferences and public forums about these issues, and partners with local law enforcement and social service agencies to serve foreign-born victims of human trafficking.
GSAE: What about from the perspective of the local church-goer? What does their involvement look like in a day of ministry?
Kadel: Our comprehensive volunteer program provides a thorough orientation process and then placement with a refugee or family to assist them with the transition to America and to simply show the unconditional love of Jesus through friendship evangelism. Our Good Neighbor teams engage small church groups to walk beside our Case Managers in welcoming a new family to Spokane and helping them through a myriad of appointments. We also recruit host homes of Christian families who may have extra room in their home and are open to hosting a newly arrived refugee family for a few days while we find appropriate housing.
GSAE: Are these folks ready and able to work when they arrive?
Kadel: Yes! Refugees wait years for legal paperwork to be resettled in our country. The average wait time for refugees arriving weekly in Spokane is approximately 14 years. Refugees become permanent residents and eventually U.S. citizens. They are our new Americans, coming to this country just like many of our forefathers, looking for hope and a chance for a new life in freedom. Once they arrive legally, they receive a work authorization card from the U.S. government and are able to work.
GSAE: The economic impact of the refugees to the Spokane economy has to be tremendously positive.
Kadel: Just like any other person moving to Spokane seeking employment, they go to work, pay taxes, and contribute to the local economy. Nationally, refugees spend the least amount of time on public assistance of any people group.
GSAE: And are they able to find housing?
Kadel: World Relief assists in helping refugees find housing, but between national property management companies and implementation of stricter rules, it is becoming more and more difficult to find landlords willing to rent to refugees without any credit, job, or rental history. Although their rent is covered by our federal grants, they do not have current funds to show 2.5 or 3 times the monthly rent. Sometimes the landlord’s hands are tied to make an exception for newly arrived refugee clients. We count it an answer to our prayers every time housing is found for a new family.
GSAE: OK, so I’m Joe or Jane Believer and I decide I want to get involved. What are the opportunities?
Kadel: Sign up for and attend one of our volunteer orientations, and prayerfully consider the options of getting involved. We at World Relief could not do the work we do without our church-based volunteers. In fact, the federal government requires us to recruit volunteers from the local community. What sets World Relief apart from others is that we only seek volunteers from the local Church.
You can find out about our volunteer opportunities and schedule of orientations at: http://worldreliefspokane.org/volunteer/
GSAE: Switching subjects, can you tell me about the work you folks do to address human trafficking?
Kadel: Through the execution of its mission – “to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable” – World Relief is able to educate more people and provide quality case management services to foreign born victims of human trafficking. Organizations or schools that are interested in learning more about preventing human trafficking and what they can do to advocate for this cause are welcome to contact World Relief to schedule a presentation.
As we work together as a community to address the evils of this human tragedy happening behind the scenes, World Relief acts as a leading faith-based advocate to raise awareness and provide avenues for engagement. Please contact us through the information below if you have questions or want to schedule a presentation.
GSAE: In what way can a local believer get involved in that?
Kadel: World Relief Spokane hosts monthly “Human Trafficking 101” classes at our office that give an overview of what human trafficking is, what it looks like globally, nationally and locally, what are some common myths, and what you can do to partner with anti-trafficking agencies to prevent it. Check out this link for the next human trafficking 101 class: http://worldreliefspokane.org/anti-trafficking
In addition, World Relief hosts the Coalition to Abolish Human Trafficking in the Inland Northwest at our office. The Coalition meets the first Monday of every month (except holidays) at 4:00 PM at the World Relief office. This is an opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the community, and hear about advocacy efforts the public can support and become engaged in.