New York, January 20, 2009
Church World Service is assisting with the resettlement of a Palestinian family from the Gaza Strip. The 33-year-old widow of a U.S. legal permanent resident and her six children, four of whom are U.S.-born citizens, were granted special humanitarian parole by the U.S. government and arrived Wednesday, January 21.
The U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security evacuated the family to Jordan on January 2. While the family was still on the bus to Amman, DHS contacted CWS - reaching Joe Roberson at home during the New Years holiday - to ask for help resettling the family, which has no relatives in the United States.
PARA Refugee Services, the CWS affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan, agreed to receive the family. PARA found an apartment for the family and enlisted volunteers from Corinth Reformed Church, a Reformed Church in America congregation, who furnished the apartment and are providing social support. Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church provided several beds.
"The Corinth volunteers are the most loving, gentle, kind people, who really understand the importance of just loving people," said PARAs Elizabeth Smith, who noted that the family was evacuated from the Gaza Strip during the fighting and arrived in Grand Rapids exhausted.
The U.S. government paid the family's airfare, and CWS raised funds equivalent to what is provided to refugees resettling to the United States. Contributors were the American Baptist Churches, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Methodist Committee on Relief, and CWS Emergency Response Program.
CWS partners with the federal government to sponsor special cases when the need arises. Last year, there were two: from Macau and from Liberia.