MANKATO — It’s only been four months since the Minnesota Council of Churches Mankato Refugee Services opened its doors in Mankato.
But in that time, they’ve come a long way.
The group, the main office of which is in Minneapolis, was created to help immigrants transition to life in America. So far they’ve kept busy spearheading projects, scheduling classes, searching for volunteers and other tasks.
Coming up soon is perhaps their most ambitious endeavor. It’s called the Tapestry Project. It hopes to revamp a previous effort to help new immigrants get help finding housing, jobs or resources.
The group is looking for volunteers who can serve as “community connectors” for the six weekly installments of the program. The first session is 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The Tapestry Project is a collaborative effort by Minnesota Council of Churches Refugee Services, Lloyd Management and the city of Mankato. The weekly meetings will focus on a new topic each night, such as housing, parenting, food safety, health, public safety, etc.
Minnesota also got a pair of Americorps Vista volunteers helping set up other programs to help match new immigrants with volunteers, and something called the Refugee Community Consortium, which looks to get community service providers and refugee community members together to discuss the issues that affect them.
“We’ve invited county departments, city departments, our local health services facilities, and other service providers and nonprofits to dialogue with us,” said Jessica O’Brien of Refugee Services.
The plan for the consortium is to set it up but then let the community take it over and mold it to whatever form best fits its needs, she said. That group has met twice. The last meeting attracted 50 people from various groups.
Minnesota Council of Churches Mankato Refugee Services says its goal is to do whatever it can to help immigrants and the communities in which they’ll live.
“I’m really excited,” O’Brien said. “I feel like there is strong city support extending a hand to our newcomer neighbors.”
Refugee Services opened in April and is housed at Bethel Baptist Church for now. In the future, it may move to a permanent location.
They’re still looking for volunteers. Anyone interested can call 345-1554.