Immigrant / Refugee Services

EXAMPLES: programs designed to assist in obtaining or providing for basic needs as well as identification and credentials needed to pursue employment, etc.

SAMPLE PROJECT: NEW YORK, USA

The RSHM LIFE Center, located in Sleepy Hollow, NY, was established in 1995 by the Sisters of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary to address the needs of a community of low-income, non-English speaking immigrants who were struggling economically, facing significant language barriers and isolation.

LIFE Center has a whole family orientation. The programs for children include: Parents &Tots (for preschoolers); after school programs for K-5th grade children; Saturday Supplemental for extra help with reading and math; a Summer Camp; Friday Night Fever to keep young teens connected; adult English as a Second Language classes; and support services for senior citizens.

The 2010 U.S. Census statistics shows that 25% of the residents in Westchester County, New York are foreign born and there are pockets where the percentages are much greater: 44% of Sleepy Hollow residents are foreign-born and 56% speak a language other than English at home. Nearby towns such as Yonkers and Ossining have similar high percentages.

Westchester’s growing immigrant population needs access to skilled, low cost immigration legal services, delivered to the maximum number of people. The reality is that honest, affordable lawyers to deliver these services are in short supply. The sisters have been part of the immigrant community since 1995 and the families trust them.

In September 2013, the sisters opened the Immigration Legal Services program in response to changing population demographics and developments in immigration. The program, recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals

(BIA), is staffed by one full-time immigration attorney, Sr. Kelly Carpenter, RSHM and one BIA accredited part-time volunteer, Sr. Suzanne Moore, MM. They collaborate with a large number of organizations and agencies that serve the immigrant community.