The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, have long been concerned about the refugee crisis throughout the world for a number of years and early in 2022, determined a way to assist refugees in the Toledo area.
Once the Sisters decided that a house they no longer needed as a residence for themselves should be used for refugees, they sprang into action. During 2022, the SOSF Refugee Action Committee hosted a family from Afghanistan who were evacuated from Kabul during the American withdrawal.
By the end of the year, they began planning for a new family in 2023. “We were prepared to host one family, but after the co-founder of Toledo Helps Ukraine made an impassioned plea for us to consider two families, we prayed over her request and decided hosting another family was important,” explained Sister Nancy Surma, Refugee Action Committee Chair.
The first family of six arrived in early February 2023 and is residing at Welcome House, the home foermerly occupied by Sylvania Franciscans. The second family of four arrived a week later. “It is quite difficult for people to get started in the U.S. when they have no rental or credit history, and haven’t found a job yet,” says Sister Nancy. Fortunately, another long-time Toledoan was willing to take a chance on the second family and rented them a duplex.
Water for Ishmael, a local organization which offers English classes to new community members from foreign lands, has been very supportive as the Sisters work to give family members the foundational skills that can change their lives. Members from the Bavarian Sports Club of Toledo have also been very helpful in the preparation and welcoming efforts.
A great volunteer circle of people has lent a hand thus far, donating furniture and household objects and offering rides to the store, church, and to English classes. The goal of the Sisters is to ease the families’ adjustments to the United Sates, supporting them when everything is so new, and setting them on the road to independence. All refugees are so grateful for shelter and kindness outside of a war zone.
Anyone interested in financially supporting the Sisters in this Outreach Ministry are invited to contact Eileen Kerner, Director of Congregational Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-824-3625.
Donate online here.
Sylvania Franciscans work for Refugees, Migrants and Immigration Reform by:
- Writing to Congress
- Supporting local boycotts
- Standing up for the migrants in our area
- Hosting refugee families
- Praying for our government leaders that they make wise decisions regarding the immigrant population to preserve the rights of immigrant workers and to ensure family unity