RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- A group of area residents has applied to sponsor a refugee family in Ridgefield in partnership with Integrated Immigration and Refugee Services (IRIS), a non-profit agency that has been resettling refugees in Connecticut for over 30 years.
This local group, the Refugee Resettlement Committee—Ridgefield (RRCR), will host information sessions for the public at the Ridgefield Library on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.
“People have come to the effort out of concern for the massive refugee problem in the world today and the chance to make a small positive effect on the problem by helping one family restart their lives in the U.S.,” said Mike Rettger, who co-chairs the committee with Ann O’Brien.
According to IRIS, there are 19 million refugees in the world today, the largest number since World War II. After an in-depth vetting process which typically lasts over two years, the U.S. government invites 85,000 women, children, and men to become Americans each year. That number will increase to 100,000 in 2017. There are 800 arriving in Connecticut this year; 400 of them will be welcomed by IRIS and its more than 50 state-wide co-sponsors. These refugees will arrive legally, fully documented, with many skills, but often without knowing English and without much money. As an IRIS co-sponsor, the RRCR will secure affordable housing and collect furniture and other household items.
Committee members will also help the family learn to navigate the community, including enrolling children in school, facilitating job searches and language training, and performing other necessary tasks, such as driving. The goal is that the family be relatively self-sufficient in six months. During that first six months, however, they will need help with living expenses, so the committee is looking to raise $15,000 for the family.
“We would like to have logistics and funds in place by mid-September so that it could welcome a family by October or November,” said Rettger.
To learn more about the process and how to get involved, come to an information session or contact the committee at RRCRidgefield@gmail.com. To make a tax-deductible donation, go to the ‘online giving’ tab at this link , which is managing donations on behalf of the committee.