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Empowering Individuals and Families

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.

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.

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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. 

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:

    • couches

    • arm chairs

    • kitchen tables

    • dining chairs

  • Make a purchase through our Amazon Wishlist here. These are items needed for refugee families as they get settled into their housing situation. 

To donate furniture, please email pictures of your gently used items to alexander.kaplan@lssjax.org

REFUGEES SERVED

(in FY23)

2
,
5
4
1
COUNTRIES SERVED

(refugees came from)

2
9
Cuban
TOP NATIONALITIES SERVED IN FY23
PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, LSS is not able to sponsor individuals through the Uniting 4 Ukraine nor the Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans Sponsorship Program. Although clients from these programs are eligible for LSS’s programs once in the Jacksonville Area.  

Program Offerings

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Circle of Welcome

Circle of Welcome is a community sponsorship program that unites local groups with resettlement agencies to provide essential support and financial aid to new refugee families. This commitment fosters a warm welcome, with sponsors delivering dedication, consistency, and care. Community groups undergo training and receive ongoing support from Lutheran Social Services as they assist these families. Learn more here.

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Refugee Women's Support Group (S.H.E.)

S.H.E. (Social. Healing. Empowerment.) by Lutheran Social Services supports refugee women in Jacksonville, fostering connections and empowerment. The support group aims to unite women from diverse backgrounds, offering social engagement, professional development, and a vision of empowering income-generating projects. Contact refugee@lssjax.org to join or support the initiative.

Gap Services for Cuban and Haitian entrants & other populations

The Preferred Communities-Gap Services for Cuban/Haitian Entrants (CHEs) program in Jacksonville provides vital support to Cuban and Haitian parolees, refugees, and asylees within five years of arrival. Through outreach, assessments, referrals, and intensive case management, the program aims to empower and integrate individuals into the local community, ensuring a smooth transition. It addresses immediate needs and connects individuals to crucial services like healthcare and legal aid. For more information, please reach out to refugee@lssjax.org.

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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. 

Friends

Youth Services

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. For more information, send an email to refugee.youth@lssjax.org 

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Employment Services

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. 

Workshop

Mentoring Services

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. For more information, send an email to refugee.youth@lssjax.org 

Adult Education Course

Adult Education

Classes are offered in English Language, citizenship and high school equivalency diploma program through LSS' contractor.

Kids in Preschool

Childcare Services

Allows for eligible clients in the employment and adult education program to have access to quality daycare for their children. 

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Legal Services

Available to be filed on behalf of clients for core services such as I-485, naturalization, asylum, work permit, parole renewals, etc. 

More Programs

Preferred Communities

Provides case management services to overcome extra barriers to the most vulnerable refugees and asylees. 

Match Grant

An alternative to public cash assistance, providing services to enable ORR-eligible populations to become economically self-sufficient within 8 months of enrollment. 

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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.

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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

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