Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida kicked off a refugee women's support group with a beach trip for clients on March 11th.
The event, held at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, launched S.H.E., which stands for: Social. Healing. Empowerment. The mission of the support group is to empower women by connecting them with each other.
The beach trip is one of many events to come for the refugee women participating in the program.
Twenty-one refugee clients from five countries (Burma, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela) attended the gathering. For some of the women in the group, it was their first time enjoying the beach since arriving in Jacksonville, Florida.
The program will offer more social engagement and professional development opportunities for women to integrate in the Jacksonville community.
S.H.E. was born out of the Preferred Communities (PC) at LSS, which launched in February 2022.
"We wanted to unite the women together," Lily Attallah, LSS Preferred Communities manager, said. "We want every woman to feel that she is not the only person going through her experience, and that she has a community to support her."
PC provides case management services that help the most vulnerable refugees and asylees to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. These populations might include those with serious medical conditions, or women at risk.
Attallah ultimately wants S.H.E. to connect women to professional training that will empower them to start income-generating projects. Attallah envisions S.H.E. members opening a market of refugee-made goods to benefit the women in the group.
Want to get involved with S.H.E.? Contact Lily Attallah at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.