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REFUGEE _ IMMIGRANT CONSORTIUM

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					                                  REFUGEE & IMMIGRANT CONSORTIUM
                                             August 24, 2005

         Members Present :
Bridget Brennan – Marriage Educ. For Refugees*          Teresa McNamee – Ctr. Survivors of Torture & War Trauma*
Ariel Burgess – International Institute                 Nicolle Martinez – Mercy Health Plans
Patrice Crotty – SLPS Comm. Ed.                         Sharon Neumeister – SJM Neighborhood Ministry
Pam DeVoe – International Institute                     Courtney Prentis – CFS Southside*
Mary Dugan – MO Inst. of Mental Health                  Ellen Sherman – St. Louis Minority Advocacy Coalition
Renée Godinez YMCA of the Ozarks                        Elise Silvestri SSND – Immigrant/Refugee Women’s Program
Jacqui Landau – St. Louis Comm. College                 Myron Willis – Harmony in Life
Suzanne LeLaurin – International Institute              Bruce Yampolsky – St. Louis City Health Dept.
Heather McKay – St. Louis Comm. College



WELCOME: Ariel Burgess called the meeting to order at 9 :05AM.

INTRODUCTIONS: Everyone introduced themselves and their organizations. New attendees are noted
with an *.

SERVICE DELIVERY COORDINATION OF NEW ARRIVALS: Ariel Burgess gave a brief history of
her guest panel of Meskhetian Turks. They originated in the southwest region of Georgia and then were
forced into Uzbekistan in 1944. Some of them later moved to Krasnodor, Russia, but they were treated
as illegal immigrants and were denied citizenship, medical care, employment, etc. by the local officials.
They resettled about the time the Soviet Union broke up into individual states. They began arriving in
this country late last year. Most of them speak Russian, but some speak Turkish as well. Most of them
have smaller families of 4-5. A cultural profile was distributed.

The members of the panel were introduced by their caseworkers. One family has been here only one
month. They had their own business and are currently looking for employment. They also speak three
languages: Russian, Uzbekistan and Turkish. The second family has been here two months. They speak
Turkish at home, but graduated from university in Russia, so speak both languages. They felt very
welcome when they arrived in New York and were very pleased that their paperwork was completed in
only 15 minutes in the airport. It had taken them 16 years to get their passport in Russia. They had a
Soviet Union passport, but once that country no longer existed, they lacked a proper passport with the
necessary stamp. As a result, they were unable to travel, could not get medical care, and the children
could not complete their education.

Ariel noted that the final US city where refugees are resettled is in the hands of the resettlement
agencies, not the families. In some cases extended families may be split up. Once here the families do
try to reunite. Right now we have 89 new arrivals, but expect about another 130 additional Turks this
fall. The panel was questioned about their immediate needs and any comments they would like to make
about their process. They suggested that it would be helpful to them if their English class teacher spoke
their language. However, it was noted that normally each language class has immigrants that speak
various languages. There have also been some delays in obtaining medical care, due to waiting for their
Medicare Card. They are also working on passing their driving test, but need an interpreter to help
translate.
Ariel Burgess made available information about other groups that will be arriving, including Burmese
and Ethiopians in the fall. The Burmese will be about 150-160 arrivals and will be a new group for us.
They will speak Tai and hopefully, English as well. There are actually 10 ethnic groups in Burma, but
we will get only two of these groups. After WWII, Burma gained independence from England. Each
ethnicity was given autonomy by the government. In 1962 there was a military coup and the
government was thrown out. In 1988 there was a student revolution with a call for new democracy. The
army allowed democratic elections, but discredited them. Human rights abuses and imprisonments
followed. There are now Burmese refugees in India. We will be resettling Burmese from Thailand and
Malaysia. Many of them are farmers with small families of 4-5. They have been in resettlement camps,
so will not be well educated. They also are interested in resettling in Indiana. Many of them are
Buddhists and Animists. There was a lot of missionary work in Burma up through the 1950’s, so some
of them could also be Christian. Suzanne LeLaurin noted that once the International Institute begins to
receive their bios, they can then pass along further demographical information.

The Ethiopians will begin arriving in September and October. They expect to receive about 200 over a
year’s time. Some of them that have been selected for resettlement are ex-military and others have been
on a trek to Yemen, where they do not have any status or recognition for services. We do have a small
group of Ethiopians in St. Louis that have been previously settled here.

The International Institute will be resettling 3 different groups next year. The growing trend is a need to
work with diverse populations in smaller groups. The Institute was told to expect to resettle 670
refugees next year, including perhaps some Colombians and Cubans. The Institute also plans to work
with the schools to keep them informed of new groups to expect. Suzanne LeLaurin mentioned that
Fanning School plans to have an international night in November to bring together resources. Contact
Patrice Crotty if you are interested in participating or helping.

WORK GROUP PRESENTAITONS:
         Education – Patrice Crotty: They have not met over the summer months.
         Health –Nikki Lopresti: They met last week, but had low attendance. She will no longer be able
to facilitate the meetings due to a job change with Catholic Charities. The committee is addressing
concerns about the changes in Medicaid. They will be working to attract new members to the committee
to get active once again. Kym Hemley said a good focus for the group is MC+ advocacy and policy.
Bruce Yampolsky noted that he has not heard of any problems with the new student immunization
procedures at People’s, rather than the Health Dept. Ariel Burgess noted that Lead Screening would be
available at the Institute in September.
         Mental Health & Social Services – Mary Dugan: They currently are focusing on two projects.
The first project is to provide outreach services to new Americans. They meet monthly at the Mental
Health Board. The next general meeting of the committee is September 20th, the third Tuesday of each
month. Secondly, they plan to focus on developing cultural profiles of each new group arriving. They
will begin with the profiles for the Hispanic groups arriving as well as the Vietnamese. Their goal is to
have all the profiles of new ethnic groups in St. Louis on the website with links to other resources on the
Internet. Some literature information is already on the website. Mary also distributed a page from
JAMA on Refugee Mental Health.
         Marketing – Suzanne LeLaurin: One of the things discussed over the past several years,
especially at the Retreat, is to define our membership. They would like to begin using the website as
more of a marketing tool for members. A description of three defined types of “members” was
distributed and reviewed. Suzanne asked those present to vote on the proposal for implementation next
year. Bruce Yampolsky made a MOTION to approve the proposal. All those present voted in favor.
        Planning – Jackie Landau: This committee is comprised of all the committee chairs to plan the
year’s events. The annual retreat at Trout Lodge is the main venue for planning the RIC’s meeting
calendar. Six cabins are reserved at Trout Lodge, for the weekend of October 7-9. You may arrive on
Friday night to enjoy the facilities, but the meetings won’t begin until Saturday morning. They will
meet all day Saturday and part of Sunday to set their goals for 2006. You may also attend for the day
only and not spend the night. A flyer about the retreat and a brochure of Trout Lodge were distributed.
Trout Lodge will hold cabins for us until September 16th. The stay is free for RIC members; families are
half price.

OLD/NEW BUSINESS & ANNOUNCEMENTS:
        Ellen Sherman - The annual Village of Many Colors festival is October 21st at the St. Ann
Community Center. They are encouraging older adults to dress in cultural attire. The event provides
information about community services. They are going to focus on the changes in Medicare Part B.
There will also be health screenings and many cultural events. They aim at the 60+ population, but not
necessarily nursing homes or assisted living situations. Tables are available to rent at a small fee.
        Theresa McNamee – The Center for Survivors Torture and War Trauma is trying to coordinate a
youth international soccer league. On August 31, 6:30PM at St. Pius Catholic School there will be an
informational meeting. They hope to have a tournament on September 3rd in Tower Grove Park.
        Patrice Crotty – The school district’s new Superintendent is trying to expand sports leagues in K-
12. They will be organizing some sports leagues with at least six schools on the south side. Floyd Irons
will be the coordinator.
        Kym Hemley – She is relocating to Cleveland Ohio to expand her career with the Sisters of
Charity Foundation and their poverty programs.
        Myron Willis - He is working with immigrants that have been here for seven years, but are
losing their benefits due to the slow citizenship process. They have completed everything required, but
are just waiting to be called for the swearing in process. Contact him at myronwillis@charter.net if you
are working with others in the same situation.

NEXT MEETING: November 23rd. They are in need of a facilitator with Kym Hemley leaving St.
Louis. Kym offered to help whoever steps in to organize the presentation. Jacqui Landau will put a
notice on the Listserv requesting a facilitator.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 11:00AM.

				
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