A chronology of desperation for refugees in North Carolina (Part II)

Please visit Part I of this post from yesterday, here.   In that report I introduced you to the controversy on-going in Greensboro, NC about how refugees are being left in the lurch by their resettlement agency, in this case Lutheran Family Services.*  The post focused on the plight of Iraqis who say they want to go home.  This problem is not new, we have been telling readers about it for years!

NOTE! Not only are these cases of desperation increasing, but we are finally seeing brave reporters taking on the sacred cow—refugee resettlement—and questioning that old presumption of good intentions  that has served to hide the mismanagement of this federal program for decades.

Back to my post. Community faith leaders in Greensboro are saying enough is enough.

GREENSBORO — Guilford County’s resettlement agencies are taking in too many refugees without enough resources to support them, faith leaders said this week.

Recent concern has focused on the plight of newly settled Iraqis at the Hunters Glen Apartments, along with the story of a homeless Burmese refugee who arrived at Greensboro Urban Ministry’s shelter in November.

A key minister in the Refugee Information Network of Guilford said there has been growing unease since last winter, when a wave of African and Burmese refugees arrived and were nearly destitute within three months.

“I’m distressed. We as a community have let this thing go on too long,” said the Rev. Virginia Herring, assistant to the rector at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, who helped form the volunteer network. “This is tragic. It has to be fixed.”

Badi Ali, president of the Islamic Center of the Triad agrees. “You can’t just bring them here to become homeless. This is not the American way. I want the government to stop bringing Iraqis to Greensboro and give us time to absorb what we have. I’m worried about the children, to tell the truth.”

Read the rest of this December 9th article and note the last line.  We have been asking the same question since 2007!

Volunteer advocates, who question why newly arrived families are no longer paired with sponsors to help them in crisis, say the system needs a hard look.

Stalwart News-Record reporter Lorraine Ahearn updated readers with a report on the desperate Iraqis on December, 20th, here.   They eventually got heat, the local faith community asked for a meeting with LFS and LFS said more refugees are coming in 2010 (no matter what anyone says!).

GREENSBORO — Three brothers who moved here from Baghdad in August got the heat fixed in their Hunters Glen apartment for the first time Wednesday night, two days ahead of last week’s snow.

Meanwhile, it took nine days for their Iraqi neighbor with three young children to get a working heating unit after a Dec. 6 report.


But most worrisome to local refugee advocates who called for a meeting last week with leaders of Lutheran Family Services is what happens next.


In Raleigh, LFS supervisor Kristen Lovett did not return phone messages Friday, and president and CEO Suzanne Gibson Wise was unavailable for comment. Regional board chairman Robert Klepfer Jr. of Greensboro also did not return phone messages.

The local agency is one of four nonprofit resettlement agencies that are together expected to absorb 40 percent of the state’s influx of refugees this fiscal year. In a meeting last week with volunteers from the Islamic Center and Sister Gretchen Reintjes, a longtime outreach worker in the refugee community, LFS representatives said the agency will resume resettling new arrivals to Greensboro in January after a Christmas hiatus.

Readers will be reminded of the recent Kansas City, MO revelations of the firing of anyone questioning the care of refugees in that city, here, when they read this comment by a former employee, Joseph Paradis, of LFS.  It is long, but please read it:

This story does not surprise me at all. What surprises me is that LFS has gotten away with so many things that have NEVER made the news. Since the beginning of the regin of Suzanne the list is endless. The people who say these refugees should be sent back should themselves be sent back to their country of origin. Such ignorance will get you nowere quite quickly as I’m sure you have already witnessed in the facsimile of what you call a daily life. As far as LFS I worked there for 12 years and upon the retirement of the founder, William D. Brittain, the agencies morale as well as the leadership took a terrible plunge for the worse. Mr. Bill would have given you the shirt off of his back. The new leader, Suzanne Gibson Wise may let you dine on a crumb left from her meal, if there be any. If ever there was a leader of so-called Christian organization without a heart she is the poster child. Under her reign all that mattered was the comfort of herself and her other incompetents su ch as Vice President’s, Controllers, HR Leads etc. If you ever meet her ask her about her method of Christmastime layoffs. She picks the day of the company Holiday luncheon. Those that are in the office that day are told face to face. Those that are out sick, mono, maternity leave, etc. are sent via courier a package containing a letter of termination and a handful of forms to sign, one such form threatening them if they choose to badmouth LFS after the termination they will forfeit their right to draw unemployment. Of course this was illegal and after the threat of a few lawsuits this tactic was ceased but she went on to bigger and better devices. I will try to refrain from badmouthing this pitiful w oma n but I will tell you this. If you would like to see how much money she made and does make for running LFS into the ground you may go to Guidestar and f ind out. It is quite sickening. As for the refugees, there are people here in America that want you here. Just keep hope and from that hope will grow warmth. To Suzanne, if you would like to pubicly debate anything I have touched on in the post feel free to let me know. We can also speak of you company paid vehicles, the wireless internet in your home, your endless Blackberries, your peronal commode and your $4000.00 office conference table. (Remember, you got it because the one that was in the office when you came wasn’t good enough). Merry Christmas LFS.

I went to Guidestar as recommended and here is the most recent Form 990 for Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas.  Mr. Paradis is right, they have lots of employees making six-figure salaries while refugees have no heat.   And, readers, if these salaries came from private donations of Lutherans across the country, that would be one thing, but taxpayers are paying for most of this.   Be sure to note on that Form 990 how much “government” money they receive.

*Lutheran Family Services is a subcontractor of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (one of the top ten federal refugee contractors).  Note that LIRS’s total federal funding is not recorded at USASpending.gov.

There is more, look for Part III, next!

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