Vol. 7, No. 2 February 2017
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Refugee Program Update
Welcoming refugee children with fun and games
Refugee children are fascinated by toy racing cars. (Cami Kasmerchak/International Institute)
Our annual Children's Holiday Party in January attracted more than 175 newly arrived children of all ages - almost 60 families.
For several hours they stepped away from the stress of learning a new language and completing homework. They gleefully raced toy cars and tossed giant balls at bowling pins.
This year, due to the size of the crowd, Institute staff joined volunteers to ensure that a fun time was had by all. We also rented several buses to transport children and their parents from the apartment complexes on Hodiamont, north of University City.
Volunteers from Wells Fargo Advisors, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church and Forever Buffs St. Louis ably assisted to ensure another year of success for this increasingly popular event.

Adopting families for extra holiday support
More than 60 refugee families benefitted from donations of household items, clothing, toys, and more. In addition, most families also received cash donations to help them defray the costs of rent and winter utilities. (Wayne Crosslin/International Institute.)
Our 2016 Adopt-a-Family program was a resounding success. Launched on November 4 with 32 families, the program quickly expanded to 62 in response to the high level of volunteer demand.
Barely a month later, all families were adopted with the help of community groups, companies, law firms, and houses of worship. Donations ranged from basic kitchen supplies, to toys, to bikes. Children were fascinated by previously unknown games, including Minecraft Legos, Connect 4, and Twister. Their parents enjoyed the many adult coloring books, warm slippers, soft blankets, and, of course, gift cards to local stores.
More than 250 newly arrived refugees were helped this holiday season with the support of 58 groups. Participating families ranged from one to eight people and were most often of Syrian, Congolese, or Bhutanese origin. The program also collected $46,000 in monetary donations to help the families pay rent and utilities.
We and the participating refugee families are incredibly thankful to the community for ensuring the success of this program. As a result, many dozens of refugee families felt warm and welcomed during the recent chilly winter months.

Staff works hard to ease stress
Refugee clients share their stories following the President's actions banning refugees for 120-days. (Wayne Crosslin/International Institute)
All month, IISTL staff and clients have been hard at work sharing the story of refugee resettlement with the public through dozens of interviews and presentations around the community.
Recently, IISTL resettlement program staff and social workers hosted two community meetings with recent arrivals. Almost 60 refugees from Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, and Somalia attended.
Staff offered details about President Trump's Executive Order 13769 of January 27 and the travel ban it authorized. They shared subsequent activity and discussed the possibility of a replacement EO being issued.
Most questions from the audience focused on concerns about family members waiting in refugee camps or still in their home countries. Staff offered information about reunification and referral options.
"Refugees are understandably concerned about their families overseas," said Suzanne LeLaurin, IISTL Senior Vice President for Programs. "Still many of them in the audience expressed their gratitude for being given safe haven in the US and for the welcome they have received."
"These newcomer refugees already love America."
Upcoming Events
Community Health Fair
March 3 at 9 am - 1 pm; IISTL
Free health screenings and information booths. Info, click here.

Grantsmanship Training
March 20-24, Daily; IISTL
Join us for a superlative 5-day training program for new and high-level fundraisers. Offered by the renowned Grantsmanship Training Center and hosted at IISTL. Scholarships are available. Info, click here.

IISTL Annual Trivia Night
March 24, 6:30 pm; IISTL
Start gathering your trivia friends for a table. Sponsorships also available. Info, click here.

4 Hands City Wide Proceeds Benefit IISTL
January 1 - March 31
A portion of every City Wide purchase will go to IISTL. Info,click here.

Tours of IISTL
Last Wednesday monthly, 10 am
Click here for reservation form. Group tours for more than five visitors can be arranged at other times with advance notice by using the form.
Other News
Rent event spaces at IISTL
Need a space to hold a small meeting or a large event? We may have what you are looking for! For rates and room sizes, please visit our rental page.

Festival of Nations - Artist Applications are available
If you are interested in participating in Festival of Nations as an artist, please click here.
Food, gift and info booths applications will be available in early March. Sign up to receive an application here.

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International Institute of St. Louis | (314) 773-9090 | info.iistl.org | www.iistl.org