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Refugee Sponsorship

At First Olympia

Our renewed Commitment

Several years ago, our congregation became very concerned about the plight of refugees around the world. We remembered that after World War II and following the Vietnamese Boat Lift, we had helped families settle in the Untied States, but as far as we could tell, no ministry or outreach in Olympia, or Thurston County, had undertaken the work of refugee resettlement for several decades. That changed in 2016 when our congregation agreed to form the Refugee Task Force, a committee focused on bringing a refugee or refugee family to Olympia and supporting their goals and dreams for their future.
Our task force connected with Lutheran Community Services in Tacoma and began a long approval process. After six months of planning, training and conversation, First Olympia UMC was proud to welcome Layla, a 28 year old woman from Somalia. Layla arrived on January 17, 2017 at SeaTac airport, where she was greeted by members of our committee. The committee and our congregation were blessed to provided friendship, housing, transportation and support as Layla navigated life in the PNW.  And by July 2017, Layla had settled into an apartment in Federal Way, gotten a driver’s license, and found full time work at Sea-Tac airport. She continues to work on her English and has found community in a local mosque with a large Somali contingent. We hoped that Layla would be the first of many opportunities to welcome refugees.
After Layla, the church helped bring refugee children with Down Syndrome to the US, coordinating with local service agencies and families to assist in creating supportive community. Then in early 2019, we welcomed a family of Congolese refugees made up of two adult sisters and their five children and extended family. The family had come to the United States a few years earlier but had not found a supportive community. We embraced the family and helped find an apartment here in Olympia, where the children are now enrolled in school and thriving. It takes a village to bring hope and possibilities to such a large family, but by the grace of God, we joyfully unite around this important work.

Since 2017 First Olympia has sponsored 11 refugees in four family units, from various countries. We have used teachers and drivers, local guides and medical personnel, cooks and job coaches, and many more volunteers to make this happen. HELP IS ALWAYS NEEDED! So, if you would like to get involved, please contact Angelina Goldwell.