SOURCE: Lutheran Social Services of Michigan

Lutheran Social Services of Michigan

September 03, 2013 16:46 ET

LSSM Shares Local Refugee Stories at Sept. Board Dinner

Resettlement Services Help Refugees Integrate and Learn American Culture With the Guidance of Local Families

GRAND RAPIDS, MI--(Marketwired - September 03, 2013) - After surviving two wars, fleeing his home country and surviving for years on green peas and cornmeal, Odia Lufulwabo has led his family to safety.

Born in 1970 in Congo, Mr. Lufulwabo experienced two wars in his 20s, observing the unspeakable. At a tipping point of fear, he led his family to Tanzania and later Mozambique, where they subsisted in refugee camps and he served as an interpreter to earn a meager income. Today, Mr. Lufulwabo works in refugee resettlement services for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan (LSSM) in Grand Rapids as a caseworker, helping new refugees successfully transition to life in the United States.

Americans born in this country don't realize how challenging even the simplest tasks can be when you come from a very different culture. Part of LSSM's refugee resettlement services -- which will be celebrated Sept. 12th at a board dinner in Grand Rapids -- is to bring local families into the mix to guide refugees to seamless existence in America. It can be as simple as teaching someone how to grocery-shop, understand what is junk mail and what is real or the challenge of navigating traffic to get to a doctor appointment.

LSSM is Michigan's largest private refugee resettlement organization. During the past 40 years, the organization has resettled thousands of refugees and helped them adjust to life here. It provides sponsorship, immigration assistance, legal services and assistance with resettlement and acculturation

** Please consider publicizing and covering LSSM's September 12th Board of Trustees Dinner, which is free and open to the public with advance registration. Several resettled refugees will share their stories and LSSM staff will be on-hand for interviews about refugee resettlement in Michigan. **

Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled more than 3 million refugees. Michigan is among the top 10 states, with 3,600 refugees arriving in Michigan in 2012 alone. West Michigan welcomes approximately 600 each year. They come from places such as Burma, Bhutan, Congo, Somalia and Sudan.

"Forced to flee their homeland, refugees coming to Grand Rapids are faced with the daunting task of starting over in a strange new place," says Chris Cavanaugh, LSSM Program Manager of Refugee Services. "Serving and welcoming these refugees to our community aligns with LSSM's mission to 'Serve Others as an Expression of the Love of Christ.' Refugee Services relies not only on staff but on the support of the community through churches and volunteers, to walk alongside the newcomers and share in their transition to life in West Michigan."

Lutheran Social Services of Michigan is dedicated to creating communities of service that meet the needs of people, upholding human dignity, advocating equality and justice. Established in 1934, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan serves the Lower Peninsula of Michigan with more than 80 programs in 44 cities. Lutheran Social Services provides a wide variety of services for children and families, senior adults, refugees and persons with disabilities. Lutheran Social Services of Michigan serves all persons, regardless of race, religion or national origin, as an expression of the love of Christ.

For information, visit

Event Details

Program Title: "Do Unto Others"

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 6 p.m.

Where: St. Luke's Lutheran Church, 3215 Four Mile NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Join Lutheran Social Services of Michigan's Board of Directors for an evening of inspiring stories from refugees as well as the LSSM staff who helped them find their way in a new country. Hear about their journeys to America, including how and why they left their homes, and learn about the array of programs LSSM's Refugee Services division provides.

This event is complimentary and open to the public with advance RSVP.

To attend the board dinner, RSVP to Anita Jones, 313:308:8862,

For media, please RSVP to Lynne Golodner at Your People,, 248:376:0406

Contact Information