In an effort to provide the best services possible to its clients, Safehope and its staff are always looking to gain more information and insight into the resources available.
For that reason, Safehope recently reached out to Director of Immigration and Refugee Services for Catholic Charities Wichita David Osio to lead a training from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Friday at the Harvey County Courthouse community room (800 N. Main). The session is both aimed at educating staff on how they can assist the immigrant population and to make them aware of the services provided by Osio and his organization.
"We want to increase our knowledge so we can provide information directly, but we also want to know where we can point people to the experts for the various challenges they're facing," said Safehope Program Director Courtney Becker. "It's so hard for that population to know how to navigate the system. There's a lot of fear that surrounds that. They don't know who to reach out to. There's concern that if they ask questions then it's gonna draw attention to them in negative ways, and so we always — as advocates and community partners providing social services — are looking for ways to get them the information that they need."
Safehope has partnered with Osio before on smaller scale trainings, according to Becker, but seeing the significance of the message and the benefits it could provide to other entities the training has been opened up to other community partners (i.e. members of the Harvey County Resource Council) as well.
Immigration Services at Catholic Charities Wichita provides benefit eligibility determination for citizenship, work authorizations and other related services. The mission of the organization is to help immigrants build new and secure futures in the United States and Osio is seeking to help Safehope and other community partners facilitate that — no matter an individual's current immigration status (whether a legal permanent resident or refugee).
"Basically, if they know what immigration is all about — Immigration 101, the basics — they will be able to determine what kind of help they can provide for them," Osio said. "I want it to resonate with them because many times when they are dealing with women who are in domestic violence situations, these women are probably undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens and there is a way where that immigrant can actually apply for herself or himself to actually obtain legal status in the United States. It's something that no one knows except people who work in the field, so I'm trying to spread the word to facilitate their work."
Noting the immigrant population is one of the most underserved in the three counties (Harvey, Marion and McPherson) Safehope serves, Becker stated the value of this training is clear — both for Safehope and other community partners.
Knowing the challenges members of those populations face, Becker stated service providers should be striving to stay informed about all the resources available to assist those community members — and this training is a good step.
"Being in advocacy services, being in support services, we're day-to-day in contact with people who have immense challenges that many of us aren't even aware of, would never have imagined and if we were faced with those same challenges we would be totally overwhelmed. That's the reality that a lot of underserved populations face all the time," Becker said. "Because we get to see that, we can have a heart for that, and we just want other people to be aware of that and also have some tools and resources to reach out to those folks."
For more information on the training, call 316-283-0350.