LSI is proud to welcome refugees and newcomers to Iowa.
Our communities are stronger and more vibrant when we embrace the humanity and uphold the dignity of those seeking asylum among us. As an officially designated resettlement agency, LSI partners with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) to provide resettlement services in Iowa. LSI has a long legacy of welcoming refugees, beginning with resettling displaced persons after World War II, in 1947. Since that time, LSI’s services have expanded to include a broad array of post-resettlement services.
This work takes a community. We need you.
FINANCIAL DONATION OPTIONS
There are multiple ways to financially support LSI’s efforts to welcome refugees and immigrants to Iowa through one-time and recurring contributions. Every dollar donated goes directly toward welcoming, equipping, and uplifting new Iowans to build their lives and homes here.
LSI is responding to the immediate resettlement need of welcoming Afghan refugees, but we need your help. Your gift to LSI’s Crisis Campaign will provide critical support for individuals, children, adults, and families as they call Iowa their new home. Your gift will cover emergency medical care, housing, food, transportation, basic necessities, and long-term support services. In a world with so many unknowns, help us provide stability and a safe space for our new neighbors.
To donate to the Crisis Campaign, visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/lsirefugee. Your gift will immediately be put to use to respond to the basic needs of our new neighbors as they transition to a new normal.
Thank you in advance for your generosity. Questions about donating? E-mail Sarah.Green@LSIowa.org.
Resettlement support is not a one-time expense, but an ongoing need for LSI and the families we have the privilege of welcoming. Become a partner with us in this work by making a recurring gift as a Community Connector. Community Connectors ensure individuals and families resettled in Iowa are connected to their local and state communities and have the resources they need to not only survive, but thrive. Community Connectors commit to give $1 per day, which can be split into one recurring gift of $365 (or more) or a recurring gift of $31 per month (or more).
To become a Community Connector, make an online donation at https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/lsirefugee, or mail a check to 3200 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311 with “Community Connector” written on the memo line. Questions? E-mail Nancy.Strutzenberg@LSIowa.org.
While LSI receives some federal financial assistance to resettle refugee families, this reimbursement does not begin to cover all expenses associated with supporting their needs. We are committed to providing newly resettled individuals and families with all of the resources needed to thrive here in Iowa. It costs about $10,000 to resettle a family of four. Through Fund a Family, you can directly help offset these costs.
As a Fund a Family sponsor, you are committing to raising or donating $1,200 which will allow LSI to provide necessary resources and services for resettlement.
This opportunity is perfect for youth groups, corporate partners, congregations, families, or faith communities. Individuals are also encouraged to sponsor and fundraise to individually fund a family!
To learn more or to sign up to Fund a Family, e-mail Nancy.Strutzenberg@LSIowa.org.
IN-KIND DONATION OPTIONS
There are lots of ways to share new or gently used items with newly arrived individuals and families. Please explore our options below and learn how you, your family, or your church or work group can help.
LSI is in need of a large variety of in-kind items to equip and support resettlement efforts. These items will be directly given to individuals and families. Please review the list of items we need and items we cannot accept before donating. Click here to see the list of items we urgently need. Click here to view the list of items we cannot accept.
In-kind donations can be dropped off at LSI’s Refugee and Immigrant Connection Center at 3200 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311. Please contact Nancy.Strutzenberg@LSIowa.org for details on storage and collection/drop off of in-kind items.
Help welcome refugees to Iowa with an LSI Welcome Box. These boxes are essential for preparing a welcoming home as newcomers adjust to a new life in Iowa. Consider creating a box individually, as a family, with a faith group, or as a corporate community engagement project.
Click here for details on how to assemble an LSI Welcome Box.
You may donate as many LSI Welcome Boxes as you like! Please include only new (not used) items and we encourage you to include a hand-written, unsealed note welcoming the family.
If you plan to organize a Welcome Box drive or effort with a group, please contact Nancy.Strutzenberg@LSIowa.org to coordinate drop-off and distribution. Donations will be accepted at LSI office locations throughout the state, but please contact Nancy.Strutzenberg before you arrange to drop-off, as office hours vary by LSI location. If you are dropping off Welcoming Boxes in Des Moines, you can do so at our Refugee and Immigrant Connection Center at 3200 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311.
Interested in donating in-kind items to LSI’s resettlement efforts but don’t have the time to purchase and deliver? Purchase in-kind items online from LSI’s Resettlement Wish List on Amazon! These items were selected by LSI staff and can be purchased in any quantity to directly support resettlement.
Purchasing is easy: Click here to access LSI’s Resettlement Wishlist to view items. Select items to purchase, add to your Amazon cart, and click “check out.” Amazon will take your payment information, send you a receipt, and will deliver your purchased items directly to our Refugee and Immigrant Services Connection Center in Des Moines.
Questions? Email Meghan.Smith@LSIowa.org.
It takes a community to welcome new arrivals to Iowa. We are stronger together! Much of our work with newly resettled individuals and families is led by LSI staff; however, we need the support of volunteers to organize donations, sort items and set up apartments, cook, clean, and partner with our newly arrived friends.
All volunteers will be processed through an application system and will undergo a background check and reference review in order to keep our clients, volunteers, and staff safe. All positions will receive proper training for the tasks assigned. There is no long-term commitment for volunteering at LSI.
For questions about individual volunteer opportunities or to set up a group volunteer activity, email Meghan.Smith@LSIowa.org.
Resettlement Transportation Volunteer
Volunteers are needed to ensure newly arrived individuals and families have a way to get where they need to be. Key responsibilities include: greet newly arrived refugees at the airport and transport them to their new home, transport individuals to and from their homes to appointments at LSI or other community partners, be welcoming and helpful to newly arrived refugees settling into their homes, respect clients of diverse backgrounds, and handle sensitive client information confidentially.
The time commitment for this position will fluctuate based on the number of individuals/families resettled at one time, as well as the differing transportation needs of families. This time commitment is expected to be generally two to three hours at one time.
Click here to view the Resettlement Transportation Volunteer position description.
Click on the dropdown below to apply.
Adjustment Education Volunteer
Imagine moving to a new country with no experience navigating stores, public transportation, or cultural practices. Volunteers help educate and introduce newly arrived refugees to their communities, a critical component of our resettlement process. The purpose of this volunteer position is to help individuals learn how to safely navigate their new community. Key responsibilities include: travel with refugees on their first bus ride from their home to LSI’s office; explain bus maps, transit schedules, the purchase process for bus tickets, and rider expectations with assistance of interpreter as appropriate; support cultural orientation teachers in administering lessons in a variety of ways (demonstrations, leading activities in small groups, and working one-on-one with individual students); and communicate respectfully to give clients the opportunity to master content.
The time commitment for this position will fluctuate based on the number of individuals/families resettled at one time, as well as the differing education needs of families. This time commitment is expected to be generally 10-12 hours with each family.
Click here to view the Adjustment Education Volunteer position description.
Click on the dropdown below to apply.
In-Kind Donations Volunteer
This position helps newly arrived individuals and families have access to the items they need to thrive in their new homes. Key responsibilities for this position include: transport, unpacking, and setting up furniture and household items in apartments for newly arriving families; and sorting and organizing donated items so they are easy to find when identifying items for families.
The time commitment for this position will fluctuate based on the number of apartment set ups. This time commitment is expected to be generally 2-3 hours at one time for apartment set up and 2-5 hours per week for in-kind donation organization.
Click here to view the In-Kind Donations Support Volunteer position description.
Click on the dropdown below to apply.
LSI relies on community members for job placement and housing connections. While these positions do not require a large time commitment, they help open doors for LSI employees and clients.
LSI is looking for individuals who have available space (a personal dwelling) to house an individual or family. Contact Meghan.Smith@LSIowa.org if you have space or a property that is available. We are also seeking property owners or apartment management companies with available space for refugee families at an affordable cost.
LSI is also seeking individuals with personal connections to job opportunities or who are interested in researching open positions for newly resettled individuals and families.
If you are interested in supporting LSI’s housing and job placement efforts, please email Meghan.Smith@LSIowa.org for more information.
Q: What is LSI’s role in refugee resettlement?
A: LSI is a contracted refugee resettlement agency through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), which is one of nine official national resettlement organizations that work with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to bring refugees to the U.S. LSI provides direct resettlement of refugees arriving in Des Moines, Sioux City, and other areas of the state as needed. LSI assists with the immediate needs of the individual or family.
Furthermore, LSI’s array of post-resettlement programs is available to connect newcomers with ongoing services, including English language classes, small business development, career connections, financial literacy education, mental health and family wellness, citizenship classes, and more.
Q: Why does LSI resettle refugees?
A: A spirit of welcome and empowerment is woven into the fabric of LSI’s mission and core values. LSI is an organization founded by immigrants in 1864, and official refugee resettlement has been part of our service history since 1947. Since then, we have resettled hundreds of individuals, and broadened our service array to include post-resettlement services designed to support new Iowans in achieving their goals and dreams.
Q: Who is designated as a refugee?
A: According to the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, refugees are persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution. Their situation is often so perilous and intolerable that they cross national borders to seek safety. It is too dangerous for them to return home, and they must find sanctuary elsewhere. These are people for whom denial of asylum has deadly consequences.
Refugees are defined and protected by international law.
To read more, click here.
Q: What is the U.S. refugee resettlement process like?
A: Refugee arrivals to the U.S. undergo a 12-step screening process by U.S. and international authorities, including the United Nations, FBI, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Background checks, fingerprint verifications, medical screening, and in-person interviews are all involved in this process.
For an extensive overview of the screening process, click here.
Q: How are Afghan arrivals vetted before they arrive in the Iowa?
A: Afghan arrivals have undergone rigorous vetting before entering the U.S. To learn more, click here.
Q: How is the process or designation for Afghan arrivals different than other refugees who are resettled in the U.S.?
A: Most Afghans arriving in the U.S. are being resettled through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program or a legal mechanism called “humanitarian parole.” In the past, Afghans who had assisted the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan have been resettled through the SIV program; however, this process can take years to complete and did not include other Afghans who were at risk during the military withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021.
On August 23, 2021, the federal government announced it would utilize a humanitarian parole authority to process Afghans who did not already have visas.
For detailed information about the process and benefits available to people designated as refugees, SIVs, and parolees, click here.
Q: How many Afghans will be coming to Iowa? Will refugees from other countries continue to be resettled, as well?
A: According to initial estimates, about 700 Afghan evacuees will be resettled in Iowa as part of a first wave of Afghan resettlement. We do not know the arrival timeline for these individuals, or how many additional individuals may arrive after the first wave.
Iowa will continue to receive refugees from other countries, as well. In February 2021, President Biden announced his plan to welcome 125,000 refugees to the U.S. during the upcoming federal fiscal year.
While we do not yet know specifics about how many newcomers will arrive or where they will come from, LSI stands ready to welcome our new neighbors and walk alongside them as they build their new lives here in Iowa.