In the midst of the economic downturn, in 2010 the USCCB/MRS relaunched The Parishes Organized to Welcome Immigrants and Refugees (POWIR) Program, offering small grant support to 60 dioceses. This grant money is now being used to augment services in the following areas:

  • Strengthening parish and community support for refugees
  • Increasing donations to fund additional refugee services
  • Volunteers help with jobs, ESL, transportation & housing
  • Organizing special refugee events and outreach activities

Small seed grants continue to be provided to local parishes through the program for the development of volunteer-led efforts to meet a range of resettlement needs, including transportation, English language learning, employment mentoring and more generally navigating U.S. systems. The initiative has spurred the development of innovative projects and social enterprises. With POWIR support, Catholic Charities of Louisville, for example, utilized funds to create an in-house woodworking shop, where it can manufacture furniture items at low cost and high quality. To pick another example of this program’s empowering impact, Catholic Charities of Jacksonville produced a documentary film to intensify its volunteer recruitment efforts. Testimonials underscore the social impact of volunteerism on resettlement. “We are thrilled with POWIR’s positive contributions,” reports one program manager. “It has allowed us to be more visible, to recruit more volunteers and provide better services to refugees in need.”