How We Help Refugees
Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida has welcomed refugees to Jacksonville for more than 40 years. We’ve helped people escape desperate situations in Vietnam, Laos, Bosnia, Ukraine, the former Soviet Union, Bhutan, Sudan, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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TOP NATIONALITIES SERVED IN FY22
Our diverse Refugee Services program team – hailing from 10 countries and speaking 17 languages – helps refugees create new lives in this country. Ours is the only area program that offers refugees employment services designed to foster self-sufficiency.
Since the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, LSS has resettled more than 270 Afghans. A second wave of Afghan arrivals is now underway, and we are also seeing Syrian, Sudanese and Congolese arrivals.
Ukrainians are also making their way to Jacksonville to reunite with loved ones, and we are receiving requests for help daily. Because those currently arriving have a legal status other than refugee, however, the array of federally funded services we already have in place to help, are not currently approved for them. That doesn’t mean we aren’t helping, but it means we don’t have a funding source for the services we are providing. It means, at least for now, it’s up to us. LSS has the knowledge and understanding to help, but as a local, standalone agency without a state- or national-level parent organization, we cannot do it without community support — your support.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is an individual who has been forced to flee their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution. Refugees are granted status before they arrive in the United States.
Tiered Case Management
Works with refugees who have more complex issues that require additional assistance. While they assist all eligible clients, they commonly assist Cuban/Haitian entrants with activating benefits and linking them with resources in the community.
Focuses on young refugees aged 16 through 19 which provides support to students enrolled in local public schools. This program offers after school tutoring, workshops, and field trips to increase skills and community integration.
Assists refugees in obtaining their first job in the U.S. as quickly as possible, and helps established refugees move up the career ladder to jobs with increased responsibility and high salaries. Employment Services staff work with local employers to educate them on refugee employment, and coach jobseekers on interviewing skills and U.S. employment customs.
Works with refugees ages 15-24 to promote positive civic and social engagement and support individual educational and vocational advancement. Participants are linked with volunteer mentors to help them achieve their goals. They also can participate in workshops and field trips.
Classes are offered in English Language, citizenship and high school equivalency diploma program through LSS' contractor.
Allows for eligible clients in the employment and adult education program to have access to quality daycare for their children.
Available to be filed on behalf of clients for core services such as I-485, naturalization, asylum, work permit, parole renewals, etc.
Provides case management services to overcome extra barriers to the most vulnerable refugees and asylees.
New American Cities
A career pathways program that serves refugees and immigrants who have been in the United States past their initial resettlement period and are ready for career advancement and upskilling.
An alternative to public cash assistance, providing services to enable ORR-eligible populations to become economically self-sufficient within 8 months of enrollment.
The Resettlement Process
Refugee Services staff and volunteers begin the resettlement process well before refugee families arrive by preparing apartments with furniture, basic living staples and food. After arrival, the Refugee Services team conducts a 90-day orientation program that helps refugees connect with vital resources, enroll their children in schools, obtain proper work forms, manage healthcare issues, get immunized, and more.
The federal government provides funding for 75 percent of all resettlement program expenses, with the understanding that the community will fund the remaining 25 percent. To donate or volunteer your time, please visit the Get Involved tab on our website.
Did you know? Refugees are required to repay the U.S. government for their travel expenses. Once they begin working, they will receive a bill for travel and resettlement costs.
After the Taliban consolidated its control over Afghanistan during the country’s Civil War, my family and I were forced to leave our homeland and seek refuge in Pakistan. In 2004, I arrived in this country at 8 years old. The Lutheran Social Services Refugee Services team resettled my family in an apartment in Jacksonville and found my mother a job opportunity. My life simply wouldn’t be the same without Lutheran Social Services.
Ali Abdulzahir, refugee from Afghanistan
How to Help
Make a monetary donation here, designated to Refugee Services. This is the easiest and most efficient way to help, because it allows us to address changing needs as priorities shift.
Learn about volunteer opportunities with refugees here.
Donate furniture. Currently, the only items we need are gently used:
We will update this page as our needs change!