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Glenview Church Helps Syrian Family Adjust To Life In States

By DENISE FLEISCHER Lifestyles Editor | Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:00 am

Printed in the Journal-Topics Glenview

Good Stuff

Church members gather during fundraising barbecue for the refugee family. Donated items were purchased so the family could move in without worrying about shopping right away.

The congregation of Glenview’s St. Philip Lutheran Church co-sponsored a family from Syria in the fall.

Working with RefugeeOne, a provider of refugee resettlement in Chicago, parishioners assisted one family, according to Pastor Kyle Severson.

“RefugeeOne set us up with a father, mother and three children who left their home in May 2010 and have been living in Jordan, in a refugee camp ever since,” said Severson. “The family went through a whole screening process, which can take years.”

Severson said for security reasons, families initially aren’t told where they’re going to live. RefugeeOne has assisted nearly 3,000 refugees and immigrants to rebuild their lives and achieve self-reliance. Eight hundred volunteers guide those coming to the United States to escape war, persecution or genocide. They help find apartments, jobs and help the refugees learn English.

St. Philip, 1609 Pfingsten Rd., wanted to get involved.

“On our end, we raised money for the first few months of rent, basic living expenses and collected enough furniture to outfit their apartment,” said Severson. “We saw the need and were heartbroken by their stories. Their 2-year-old had only lived in the refugee camp. We wanted them to succeed and have a normal life.”

Two weeks worth of groceries were provided. A benefit barbeque was held for the family where more donations were made and items on a registry were purchased. These items included linens, towels and toiletries.

In total, St. Philip, working with Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Lincolnshire, raised $8,000 before the family arrived.

Normally, RefugeeOne learns the date and time of a family’s arrival, but this time the flight arrived before the organization was informed. But the family, who are Armenian Christians that speak Arabic, was still able to be greeted at O’Hare Airport by RefugeeOne.

“Our congregation also gave them Christmas gifts. They really wanted a Christmas tree,” said Severson. “The kids are in school. They’ve had a good transition here. They are learning English faster than their parents. One person from the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit sees them weekly to make sure they have what they need. The family is so overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.”

He added that coordinating the effort all came together in three months. “We’re really proud to have helped.”

RefugeeOne is located at 4753 N. Broadway, Suite 401, Chicago. For more information, call 773-989-5647 or log on to

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