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World Relief Spokane Holds a Positive Presence in the Spokane Community

By Micaela Granberg

World Relief Spokane is one of nine non-profit resettlement agencies in the country, taking around 600 refugees a year.

Development Director Johnna Nickoloff sees the agency as, “an organization who stand for the vulnerable.”

With the recent election of Donald Trump as the United States president, there are questions surrounding the future of refugees in the U.S.

The process at World Relief Spokane takes 90 days, after which, some refugees still come to learn job skills and attend Friday workshops at the agency.

From the minute that refugees step off of the airplane, they are in the hands of World Relief Spokane.

Former Development and Marketing Director at World Relief Spokane Angie Funnell found World Relief through a school project which later turned into an internship.

“I am an immigrant myself so I kind of connect with them,” said Funnell who is originally from South Africa.

Funnell has since transitioned into a position at a different nonprofit in Spokane, but she, “misses feeling like I was in the world because the world really is coming to Spokane. It’s a cultural melting pot.”

Because the organization is smaller, there is a need for the buy in from churches in the community to fill in the gaps.

“We’re a Christian organization and our mission is to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable,” said Nickoloff.

Refugees listen to staff at World Relief Spokane in order to understand the next steps in their resettlement process/Photo by Micaela Granberg

Some of the current gaps are in services for children who make up 51 percent of the organization.

“The hope for the organization is to grow in a way that we can make sure that the refugees are successful in succeeding. If there are any gaps in services, that those gaps are basically mended,” said Nickoloff.

Many people inf the Spokane community likes what World Relief is doing, especially when they find out that the organization is helping the refugees to become self-sufficient.

Nickoloff wants the community to know more though about how hard refugees have to work to be able to come to our country. In comparison to the refugee resettlement process in Europe, refugees coming to the United States can’t just get to the border. Refugees have to apply through United Nations and go through a series of background checks that can take anywhere from 18 months to three years.

“They are here. They are here to live for the rest of their life. I think it’s important to know that they’re legal,” said Nickoloff.

After a year in the United States, refugees can apply for a green card, and after five years, they can apply for citizenship.

“World Relief is a gem. It’s a beautiful organization in that it stands for the vulnerable and the marginalized in our community,” said Funnell.

There are various opportunities for the public to get involved such as donations or volunteering.

“You don’t have to travel to Africa to be around refugees, you can just volunteer there,” said Funnell.

World Relief has already seen success with some of their programs including Match Grant and Prime, and will continue to grow moving forward.

Match Grant is a six month program instead of the standard three months where refugees take no cash assistance from the government and are on a fast track to employment. Refugees enrolled in the Prime program have serious gaps in their resettlement process and receive more assistance.

Visit World Relief Spokane’s website for information on how to get involved.

About Micaela Granberg

Micaela Granberg is a sophomore accounting major with a minor in Public Relations at Gonzaga University. She is actively involved in Alpha Kappa Psi on campus, a co-ed professional business fraternity, and loves cheering on her Zags at basketball games!

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