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RISE will equip aspiring entrepreneurs from refugee and immigrant backgrounds with the knowledge and support they need to change the trajectory of their lives and those of their families, through entrepreneurship training and mentorship with an entrepreneur. This program was made possible through the generous support of Sumeet Shrivastava (MBA ‘94) and in partnership with the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area.

Buoyed by a $1.5 million donation from a local tech executive, George Mason University is launching a training program for aspiring entrepreneurs from refugee and immigrant backgrounds, the first phase of its inclusive entrepreneurship training initiative.

We all are familiar with foster care. The system for children of all ages who may be orphaned or need to be removed from unsafe homes. What you may not know is that some of the children in need of foster care were not born here. A significant and growing number of children in foster care are immigrants or refugees. We discuss more about who these children are, where they come from and some of the challenges they face.

Taqwa Kandahary, once a doctor in the Afghan military, said she recently learned to drive. Her journey two years ago took her from the chaos of the Kabul airport to Qatar, Germany and finally Virginia. ... The happiest day of her life was the day she arrived in America, Kandahary said.

Washington, DC, has been welcoming to Afghans who were forced to flee their homes two years ago as U.S. troops abruptly departed from their home country. Those who escaped found support in communities across the country, but especially in the Washington metropolitan area ... There is still a great humanitarian need to finish the resettlement that’s underway.

Two years after the chaotic fall of Kabul, stateside evacuees want lawmakers to step up to help allies who’ve made a new home here as well as those left behind. LSSNCA's director, resettlement and integration programs - Frederick and Arbutus, shares his story.

On Sunday, June 11, The Arlington Chorale performed their "We Stand Together" program, highlighting the refugee experience, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington in collaboration with LSSNCA to welcome new Afghan neighbors.

Chamber ALX’s Community Valor Award will be given to Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. Born during the pandemic, the award recognizes businesses and individuals making considerable contributions to the wellbeing of Alexandrians.

LSSNCA CFO, Ray Rawlins, was asked to participate in DCM Associate's webinar reflecting on the changing landscape for nonprofit CFOs.

During spring break week, when many students gave themselves permission to take a breather and recoup, students from Lafayette Colleger (PA) involved in Alternative School Break (ASB) spent their “time off” working with LSSNCA and refugees looking to resettle in welcoming communities in the U.S.

Our Chief Operating Officer, Mamadou Sy was featured in Engage magazine where he shared his resettlement story and how his experience is directly related to his work at LSSNCA.

Faheem Ahmad moved to the City of Alexandria several years ago as an Afghan refugee. The process was grueling, extensive and often left him experiencing a sense of unbidden otherness, but it’s a feeling with which he’s familiar because it marked his second stint as a refugee. Ahmad has drawn on those experiences and, with help from Alexandria’s Workforce Development Center, plans to devote the rest of his life to helping other refugees.

Our CEO Kristyn Peck was on the In the Ring Podcast discussing challenges LSSNCA overcame this past year and what it means to be Lutheran Social Services of America’s Michah Leadership Award recipient. Be sure to listen to this impactful discussion on uplifting communities.

Ahmad Jawed Tokhi watched quietly last Monday morning as the Landover Hills street around him thrummed with excitement on the first day of school.

How many Ukrainian refugees are in the U.S., where are they and how long can they stay? Why is the process for Ukrainians different from other refugees?

"Round 4: 75000 afghan refugees need help. We are gonna talk about what we can all do to be that help."

A recently announced federal program called Uniting for Ukraine is a pathway for Ukrainians fleeing their country to stay in the United States for up to two years. Ukrainians participating in the program must have someone in the U.S. who agrees to provide financial support for the duration of that stay. The door is open for up to 100,000 refugees from the war-torn country.

Even though it’s expected that the majority of Ukrainians will resettle in European countries, the Tent Partnership for Refugees is working to help recent arrivals from Afghanistan settle into life in the U.S. and has developed a resource for American companies designed to help them find work and job training opportunities.

Near the nation’s capital, Lutheran Social Services has helped settle more than 4,000 Afghans since last summer. For many, the benefits of a community that is like “a second Kabul” outweigh the high housing costs, said Zabi, a housing coordinator for LSS and relatively recent refugee from Afghanistan.

The search for housing for Afghans comes amid a tightening housing market as the U.S. crawls out of the pandemic. The nationwide vacancy rate for rental units dropped about one percentage point, to 5.6%, in the last quarter of 2020, according to recently released U.S. Census data.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’d like to recognize another brave, determined woman, Hanifa Girowal. Hanifa was a human rights attorney in Afghanistan, working with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for several years. She, like many went to work August 15 and then her day, and her future, changed in a matter of hours.

Government-funded resettlement agencies in Virginia often partner with houses of worship to help support refugees. The ADAMS Center in Sterling, Virginia has helped hundreds of refugees, including a family still traumatized by the violence they witnessed when they escaped Afghanistan in 2021. 

“It was a very bad day,” says Afghan refugee Diba, whose last name is being withheld for safety reasons. “It was a very bad, dangerous day. It is such an experience that it’s really hard to describe with words. If you have seen the photos, you must know how bad the situation was. Everyone was being trampled or killed. People’s clothes were being torn apart.” 

Eleven days after the Taliban swept through Afghanistan’s capital in August, Hamed Ahmadi found himself far from the home he fled in Kabul eating cantaloupe, two slivers of chicken and a small piece of bread for dinner at a military base in El Paso, Texas – a meal that made waves on social media after the 28-year-old posted it to his Twitter account.... While the Afghan American community has stepped up as a resource for incoming migrants, neighbors from other communities have come together to welcome this newly displaced population, too. Resettlement organizations in the D.C. area have especially provided themselves as resources during this time, including LSSNCA.

Through the U.S. government’s initiative, Operation Allies Refuge, more than 100,000 Afghans have been evacuated to the U.S. and military bases. One of the organizations actively helping Afghan refugees resettle in the United States is the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, their CEO Kristyn Peck tells Elena Russo about the process and their needs.

Refugee resettlement groups in the Washington region are scrambling to keep up with a huge influx of Afghan evacuees, leaving families waiting for housing and other services in a situation that could soon worsen as U.S. officials prepare to shut down temporary housing sites in military bases.

Before the Kabul airlift, “We had the staffing level to serve 500 people a year,” said Kristyn Peck, chief executive of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA), one of three local resettlement groups serving Northern Virginia. Peck has hired 35 additional workers since July — but, she said, “You can’t go to a staffing level to serve 500 people a month overnight.

In the last four years, Hannah Koilpillai, 65, has rounded up used furniture, beds, dishes and more to set up apartments for more than 500 people from other countries who resettle in the Washington area. Koilpillai herself came to the U.S. from India at age 10, and fondly remembers her family’s host — a woman who helped her family find health insurance and buy groceries.

In our area, since August 1, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area has resettled 150 families — almost 1,000 individuals — from Afghanistan. The social services organization expects to resettle 2,400 more people, mostly Afghans, over the next year, said spokesman Jacob Barclay.

After the dramatic airlift out of Kabul, tens of thousands of Afghans have been stuck in a holding pattern in the U.S. Many are housed for now on military bases, as we heard yesterday. They're awaiting resettlement in communities across the country, and organizations that work with refugees in those communities are racing to get ready.