MAKE A DIFFERENCE: You can help with refugee resettlement

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

While Catholic Social Services offers a wide variety of important programs, refugee resettlement has the most dramatic and immediate impact on the lives of those it serves.

“While there are many practical needs for jobs, housing and language supports, one of the greatest gifts we can offer is a warm welcome and friendship,” says Laura Roesch, Chief Executive Officer of the agency. “Learning a new culture, language and how to navigate also happens informally in neighborhoods, communities of faith and with children on the playground.”

Roesch says with remarkable strength and perseverance, these men, women and children have fled their homes to undertake the long journey to escape persecution, war and violence.

On average, refugees wait 10 years before they are relocated to a new country. They are met at the airport after an exhausting trip that may have spanned several continents. They often have little in the way of personal effects after years in refugee camps. They are strangers in a strange land, but they have hope for a new, better life.

Many refugees emerge hopeful, grateful and successful. “Before I came here I didn’t know anything about Dayton,” says Ndayisaba Ramadhan, who is originally from Burundi. “After high school I was a building attendant and cleaned buildings. Now I am a Dayton police officer.” Says another: “People in Dayton are so lovely!”

The process

Official refugee status is conferred through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and is just one of many steps in a long and complex process. By the time refugees arrive in Dayton, Ohio, they have been through a rigorous vetting process that typically takes 18 to 24 months.

Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and U.S. Department of Homeland Security are admitted to the U.S. for resettlement. National voluntary resettlement agencies, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and its affiliates, are guided by the U.S. Department of State to provide resettlement services that will help refugees gain self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States.

Roesch explains that as an affiliate of Catholic Charities, USA and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Social Services’ refugee resettlement program is the portal for refugee resettlement services in the greater Dayton area. Newly arrived refugees in Dayton receive supportive services for placement in initial furnished housing, a cultural orientation overview, employment assistance and linkage to community resources such as referrals to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services and medical services. CSS works collaboratively with numerous organizations in health care, education, employment, legal services, literacy, faith communities and many others to support resettlement goals.

Here’s what they need:

  • Twin-size sheets
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Ethnic hair shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper Towels

Your donations can be dropped off on weekdays at 1046 Brown Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402. You’re asked to call the resettlement team at 937-223-7217, ext. 2167 to arrange a time.

Want to volunteer?

Depending on your interests and skills, you might serve as a mentor to a teen or young adult; become a tutor to help refugees learn and practice English; serve as an interpreter; become a volunteer employment coach; or even help set up a home for a newly arriving refugee family.

Check out for more information.

Are you a landlord?

If you are a Dayton-area landlord who would like to learn more about providing housing for refugee individuals and families, call 937-223-7217, ext. 2167 for more information.


Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith:

Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.

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