RefugeeConnect Helps Families Thrive

Funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation & United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.

RefugeeConnect is an independent, private non-profit whose mission is to empower people who were forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster, to thrive in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The refugee and asylee families supported by RefugeeConnect face many challenges to successfully integrate into their new community and these challenges have been amplified during COVID-19, impacting a family’s ability to thrive. RefugeeConnect has pivoted its work to ensure more equitable access to these services through the mobilization of multilingual Community Navigators who are providing intensive family support services.

To date, they have supported 412 individuals from 86 families and we will continue to support them into the school year. They have connected the families with 122 resources in the community, everything from food and housing, to COVID-19 testing sites and social service benefits, academic and crisis support.

RefugeeConnect’s Community Navigators help families develop a family wellness plan, provide connections to community and social service resources, and create tailored resource guides based on family needs. Community Navigators serve to educate families about COVID-19, health and safety guidelines and to connect families to school based resources such as free internet and devices for e-learning as well as understanding school reopening plans, in their native language.

“As I talk to the families I am serving, they say that the work we do as Community Navigators help them a lot, especially since they don’t speak English,” says Ernestine Manirambona, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi speaking Community Navigator. “Since COVID-19, I have helped them find out important information and resources they would otherwise have missed out on. They see our work as important to helping their family thrive.”

“RefugeeConnect is a small but mighty team whose creativity in reimagining its programming to best serve families in a time of great need is what makes it unique,” says Kristin Burgoyne, Executive Director of Refugee Connect. “Without the generous support of Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way of Greater Cincinnati, we would not be able to provide the intensive family services through our Community Navigator model that enables refugee and asylee families to thrive through equitable access to community resources.”