‘From Refugee to Neighbor’ was the focus of the Community West Foundation annual meeting hosted on Wed., Sept. 14 at Bay Presbyterian Church.
“Unless you are a native American, all of our families have come to America from around the world and passed through New York harbor and seen the Statue of Liberty as she represents freedom and a new home,” said Community West Foundation President & CEO David T. Dombrowiak.
The sentiments were shared by a trio of guest speakers who offered understanding for the refugee reality in America today.
Speakers included Darren Hamm (former Executive Director at Refugee Response), Tom Mrosko (Executive Director, Catholic Charities Office of Migration & Refugee Service) and Brian Upton (Executive Director of Building Hope in the City.
“It is more important than ever to welcome refugees into our hearts and communities – not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the loving, caring and compassionate thing to do,” said Dombrowiak.
Each of the three speakers offered a unique perspective to the refugee reality.
“Every day, around the world, ordinary people must flee their home for fear of death or persecution. Many leave carrying only what they can, knowing that they may never return home,” said Mr. Mrosko. “Once they cross an international border, they are called refugees.” 5 years is the amount of time a refugee must wait before applying for U.S citizenship.
Mr. Upton dispelled several generalizations about refugees. Refugees do better in Cleveland than the national average, supporting 1,000 jobs that otherwise go unfilled. They ameliorate the need for housing, goods and services in the region while adding $48 million in economic impact as well as cultural and ethnic diversity.
Through the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland, 14 organizations have teamed to coordinate the resettlement-healthcare-education-support needs of refugees in northeast Ohio, added Mr. Hamm.
“It is our responsibility to welcome those suffering the most and when the world is in desperate need of humanitarian relief,” concluded Dombrowiak. “Our strategic plan at the Foundation is inspired by the words and message from the Gospel of Matthew 25:40: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’
Please learn more about the Refugee Experience at the Community West Foundation facebook site where you can link to the meeting presentations: www.CommunityWestFoundation.org.
Community West Foundation 2016
Community West Foundation continued its vibrant philanthropic presence on Cleveland’s west side on many fronts in the past year. An operational highlight came in the move of the Community West Foundation offices to 800 Sharon Drive in Westlake where they now rent their headquarters from Youth Challenge, thereby providing more support to their grant funding of Youth Challenge. Community West Foundation has also retained the services of Cleaning for a Cause for its office cleaning. A portion of every cleaning benefits a local charity.
“This supports our ‘Rising tide Floats All Boats,” said William Oatey, Chair of the Board, Community West Foundation.
In giving $4.6 million in grants over the past year, Community West Foundation supports a wide range of philanthropic interests throughout the community.
“In celebrating our work at Community West, we are really celebrating all of you,” said Oatey to the many guests at the annual meeting. “As donors, nonprofit partners, community leaders and volunteers, you are helping to make lasting, significant and meaningful contributions to impact our community, its people and the future.”
“We are Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience”
Watch the President’s report from David T. Dombrowiak (below).