Samaritas’ Services

My last post examined what the first 24 hours looks like for refugees resettled in Grand Rapids. This post will go beyond that time frame and outline the services that Samaritas provides for their clients for the next 90 days.

Overall, a case worker at Samaritas has the following tasks:

  • Find housing (not easy in Grand Rapids, as the city has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation!)
  • Organize finances ($925 in federal funds) to provide rent, food, utilities, clothing
  • Enroll clients in English classes/tutoring
  • Access healthcare and receive immunizations
  • Connect with community members
  • Job seeking
  • Access mental health services
  • Enroll kids in school

(R & P) Reception & Placement refers to the first 90 days of service provision during which refugees are assisted with housing, furnishings, food, clothing, orientation, employment and other crucial services. The week after arriving, CWs take clients to the Department of Human Services for social security matters and to apply for the MI Bridges food assistance card. Additionally, all clients receive 1 year of Medicaid.

Let me break R & P down a little further…

◊ The first 30 days are critical for a number of reasons. First, medically. Clients are to be connected to the health department to receive their mandatory immunizations, health screenings, and TB tests within this first-month time period. Kent County’s Main Hospital is always the first place clients are taken, as they have four full time nurses specifically for refugees. The hospital is required to provide interpreters if requested by Samaritas, but linguistic barriers are not the only barriers when it comes to medical treatment. Often times there will be a cultural barrier between clients home country medical expectations and experiences and western medical practices.

*A great book that elaborates on the collision of cultures in western medicine is Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

◊ School enrollment is also ideally done within those first 30 days, however, refugee students cannot enroll before their immunizations, health screenings, and TB tests are completed. Delays in scheduling appointments, availability of interpreters, client transportation by the CW, etc will all affect the date of medical attention, which subsequently affects the date of school enrollment. According to staff at Samaritas, it is more accurate to say that school enrollment takes place within the first 60 days.

*Recently, Grand Rapids Public Schools, the West Michigan Refugee Education & Cultural Center, and the two refugee resettlement agencies in Grand Rapids, Samaritas and Bethany Christian Services, have partnered together to create bi-monthly mass enrollment days for refugee clients. WMRECC provides interpreters and Samaritas provides transportation.

A Matching Grant is an additional 90 day program to assist refugee clients to become economically self-sufficient within 180 days of program eligibility. Services include case management, job development, and financial assistance.

ICM (Intensive Case Management) is a small program that assists cases with greatest needs to obtain eventual self-sufficiency with an additional 12 months of caseworker assistance. There is a broad range as to who qualifies for this program, however, selection is strict.

and finally,

Survivors of Torture (SoTis a program devoted to counseling and casework for refugee survivors of trauma and torture within five years of arrival.

That last one (SoT) almost seems, to me, like it should be an integral part of the resettlement process, rather than a separate option. Having obtained the status of a ‘refugee’ seems to inherently include traumatic experiences.

Another very important service that Samaritas provides is connecting clients with faith-based support. Clients have the option to find a faith community on their own, or request assistance from Samaritas in connecting them to a community. Faith communities also partner with refugee resettlement agencies to “co-sponsor” a client or family. The services provided by co-sponsorships are not contingent upon any religious participation. In other words, churches may invite clients to attend, but attendance is not a contingent factor in the provision of care. Currently, in Grand Rapids, there are 7-9 churches that co-sponsor refugee individuals or families, which results in about 15 co-sponsorships per year, as some churches do a couple families per year. The following Grand Rapids faith communities co-sponsor refugee clients:

(Clicking on the links below will take you directly to the church page that outlines their co-sponsorship/ refugee services, when possible)

There is actually an event coming up on February 20th,2017 called “Do Good Well: How advocates can support the local refugee community.” It is sponsored by the West Michigan Refugee Education Center and will be hosted at the Diocese of Grand Rapids. Click on the event title for more information! I’ll be there 🙂

I hope you now have a better understanding of the services provided by Samaritas and the importance of their presence in our community. Thanks for reading!


2 thoughts on “Samaritas’ Services

  1. Pingback: EO in GR | Refu[GR]Education

  2. Pingback: Connect in Grand Rapids! | Refu[GR]Education

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