By Caroline Friedmann, FC 21
For six months, I have worked in the employment office of the Refugee Resettlement Agency of Catholic Charities, affectionately called “CYO.” I wear many hats and gave myself the titles of DMV Coordinator, Cultural Orientation Provider, and Employment Specialist. I provide an orientation class to newly arrived refugees about life in the United States, assist them in getting their identifications, and help them find employment.
There is no ordinary day at CYO! Some weeks, I am running around Syracuse taking clients to the Department of Motor Vehicles, networking with potential employers, or going to job interviews with clients. Some weeks, I stay at my desk in the office to job search or provide Cultural Orientation to newly arrived refugees. Like all jobs, there are exciting days and dull days. Like all social service jobs, there are clients who make it very easy to love and to serve them and there are clients that really challenge you to grow.
I am not the first face a refugee sees when they arrive to the States. I am one of many they see in the months following their arrival. To them, the hardest part is over. They have made it here safely and many are reunited with friends and family. They can handle waiting in the DMV with me for their ID information to get processed, or sitting in a classroom as we discuss landlord and tenant laws.
Refugees are people full of hope for the future, for themselves and their children. Many of them carry a deep, profound spirituality. Before I moved to Syracuse, the Lord would gently remind me that “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). My clients at the Refugee Resettlement Agency embody the faith it takes to believe that. I am reminded of the Lord’s constant presence when I look into their eyes.
Caroline is a Refugee Orientation Coordinator at Northside CYO. Visit our service sites page to learn more about Caroline’s site and others we offer.