Soaring International Capacity in Michigan

RFL Casework Training 5.12.15

Story by Daniel Kim

On Tuesday, May 15, the American Red Cross Michigan Region heated up over aspirations of contributing to global justice and human dignity through the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, a service of the Red Cross that helps reconnect families separated internationally by conflict, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies. More than 45 volunteers and staff came to Grand Rapids from every corner of Michigan to become a Restoring Family Links Caseworker. Mary VanderGoot, Restoring Family Links Mentor, and I were instructors for the training. The seven hour training included group projects, simulations, and role plays to help Red Crossers understand the importance of our reconnecting families services, and how to deliver this humanitarian assistance to their communities.

It was very exciting to meet the future RFL caseworkers who will end up providing this service across Michigan. The state resettles the fourth largest number of refugees in the US each year, a population often in need of reconnecting families services. While teaching, I dreamed of our region reconnecting all the families in need of our humanitarian assistance – ending the human suffering caused by not knowing the fate or whereabouts of loved ones. Throughout the training, I was excited to see the participants’ passion and eagerness to help their communities.

By taking the Restoring Family Links Casework training, the participants will be able to identify new ways of supporting their local refugee communities. Conducting outreach will be crucial for them to build relationship with refugees and service provider agencies, and to grow and develop the Restoring Family Links program.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach the Restoring Family Links Casework Training and thankful to my co-instructor, Mary VanderGoot for her support and knowledge of this service. It was an amazing opportunity to reenergize my passion and love for International Services and the Restoring Family Links program. I look forward to all the amazing reconnecting families work the training participants will do back home. Go Restoring Family Links!

To learn more about Restoring Family Links and the ways you can get involved, please visit here.

Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Jamie Hamming

We are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is proud to honor Jamie Hamming with the General George Marshall Patriot Award for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration. This award recognizes an individual or a group of individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to the United States of America and in service to our men and women in uniform. There is no doubt Jamie has done just that.

In 2013, Jamie founded the Veteran Explorers Program with Spectrum Health which provides opportunities to veterans who are interested in the health care industry. The program allows veterans to go through a 10 week rotation between three departments in order to find the best fit for their skills.

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Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Jonathan Logan

Jonathan Logan and MarandaWe are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is very pleased to honor Jonathan Logan with the Jane Delano Lifesaver Award, which recognizes individuals who have acted bravely in an emergency to save a life. At 17 years-old, Jonathan is the youngest individual to be recognized during the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration. He has dedicated much of his own life to saving lives and his story is inspiring.

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Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Sylvia Daining

Sylvia DainingWe are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is pleased to honor Sylvia Daining with the Dr. Charles Drew Health Advocate Award, in honor of an individual who has dedicated their life to a cause that directly impacts the health and wellbeing of others.

Sylvia began her career as a Program Administrator at Wedgwood Christian Services. Wedgwood Christian Services aids youth and families through professional counseling and educational services. She concentrated on behavioral and mental health development of at-risk children and families during her thirty years of service.

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To learn more about how you can make a difference, please visit http://www.redcross.org

Living as a Global Citizen: The Global Language Bank of West Michigan

The Red Cross Mission is to provide relief to victims of armed conflicts or disaster and assist people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Through our International Services programs we further the global efforts of the Red Cross by educating the community about these efforts and by facilitating communication among new arrivals such as refugees and immigrants, the organizations that serve them, and families facing communication barriers caused by language, armed conflicts and emergencies. The ability to serve those with limited English ability, especially newly arrived residents to our counties, enables the Chapter not only to help these families meet their basic needs, but also to fulfill the organization’s broader mission by preparing new immigrants and refugees to respond appropriately in the case of a crisis, disaster or other emergency.

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Daniel Kim, the Global Language Bank coordinator in West Michigan

The Global Language Bank Internship Program was founded with the idea of providing a high quality internship opportunity to international college students and translators/interpreters to English as Second Language (ESL) clients in emergency and disaster situations. The Global Language Bank Internship program was developed to meet changing community needs. Services to these individuals are provided free of charge. Furthermore, we have created the cultural competency book to provide assistance both within the Chapter (to other Red Cross departments such as Services to the Armed Forces, Disaster and Volunteer Services) and to other non-profit humanitarian service providers.

New Image2Currently, we have 13 linguistic interns and volunteers who collectively speak more than 15 different languages and dialects and are available seven days a week. The Language Bank provides in-person and over-the-phone interpretation as well as written translations. The Language Bank will promote the Red Cross international services to migrants, refugees, new arrivals and their community groups and service providers with their language abilities in translating official documents, interpretation in interviews, outreach presentation, creating the cultural competency book and more. The Global Language Bank work of multilingual interns and volunteers promises to be a very valuable contribution to the humanitarian work of the American Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.