This year has presented unique challenges for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains due to the recent need for Afghan refugee resettlement. Events in Afghanistan quickly accelerated and these refugees were suddenly and quickly airlifted out of their home country.
Victoria Norton, regional development coordinator, said the LFSRM is the only agency in Colorado Springs currently working with Afghan refugees who desperately need to find safety and asylum in the United States. Although the LFSRM has been instrumental in resettling immigrants from around the world for many years, the focus this year has been on Afghanistan, as the country fell to the Taliban over the summer. . The Colorado Springs office agreed to take on 100 Afghans, many of whom had assisted the United States in roles such as translators, guides, drivers and embassy staff.
Some of the refugees have arrived and others are waiting for their special immigration visa documents to be processed. The services offered to them by the LFSRM include settling into fully furnished accommodation with everything they need from the first day of their arrival. Once refugees receive their work authorization visa, employment opportunities, particularly in the hospitality industry, will be presented and explored. Another valuable service is provided by cultural mentoring teams made up of trained volunteers who work with families for six to eight months. These volunteers help exiles assimilate and acclimate to life in Colorado Springs as they become successful members of the community.
For more than 70 years, the nonprofit organization has provided a wide range of services in the Colorado Springs area, including refugee resettlement services. LFSRM also offers other ongoing benefits. Full-service adoption, including international adoption, has been continuously available since 1948. Foster care services are provided by competent and caring families for children who cannot live with their biological family. Unaccompanied refugee minors, who are usually older teenagers who have been abandoned or have no family members to support them, are placed in approved foster homes.
Preventative services include SafeCare Colorado, which provides in-home services to families who can use assistance so their children up to age 5 can thrive and be safe. A unique service in the state of Colorado is the KPC Respite Center and Nursery, which provides free, licensed child care for families in crisis.
Emergency services are available as needed. During the ongoing pandemic, the LFSRM has partnered with Colorado’s Mind Crisis Counseling Program to offer free mental health services that provide emotional support throughout the recovery process. Additional services include unplanned pregnancy counseling and Lifework Aging Solutions for seniors.
The goal of the LFSRM is to always meet the needs of the community and the coming year will be no exception. Children and families living on the margins who are the most vulnerable members of the community can count on Lutheran Family Services for support, financial assistance and housing as stabilization is achieved and maintained.