We Welcome Refugees to Georgia

 
I welcome refugee sign
I welcome refugee sign

On January 18, more than 200 volunteers from the Atlanta area gathered in the recreation hall of Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Stone Mountain to pack more than 4,000 pounds of rice for refugees recently resettled by LSG.  As they mingled and waited for the rice packing to begin, many volunteers made signs, sharing their reasons for supporting refugees in Georgia and explaining why they choose to spend their day off from work or school as a day of service.

we welcome refugees because we can
we welcome refugees because we can
refugees welcome sign
refugees welcome sign

In a little over an hour, the hard-working volunteers – who ranged from groups of middle schoolers to individuals and families to groups of adults from local congregations - re-packaged the 25 and 50 pound bags of rice into smaller family-sized bags to be distributed to refugee families.

close up of rice for refugees
close up of rice for refugees

So, Why Rice? 

A bag of rice may seem like a strange welcome gift, but to those entering a brand new country with few resources and no immediate means to secure their family’s next meal, rice can be more than just food.  Rice, often a central part of the diets of many refugees, can bring a feeling of comfort and security in a tumultuous period of their life.  When refugees step off a plane at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to begin their new life in the United States, they’re often exhausted and overwhelmed from their journey and the long waiting period spent in a refugee camp.  They are unsure of what the next hours and days will bring.  Lutheran Services of Georgia provides them with food, shelter, clothing, cultural information, and other support in the first weeks in America, setting them up for to be self-sufficient and contributing members of their communities.

volunteers pack rice for refugees
volunteers pack rice for refugees

How We Help.

Lutheran Services of Georgia currently resettles over 600 refugee clients each year in the Atlanta and Savannah areas. In 2015, LSG resettled refugees from 14 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia, Iran, and the Ukraine.

packing rice for refugees
packing rice for refugees

LSG is there to secure housing for refugees, help refugees find their first job, and assist refugees in getting acclimated to life in Georgia. LSG supports refugees as they apply for important documents, including social security and Georgia ID cards, enrolls refugee children in school, and helps refugees select a primary care physician. LSG provides cultural orientation covering essential aspects of U.S. culture, including U.S. law, medical and educational systems, transportation, banking, and more. With help from organizations like LSG, more than 80 percent of newly arrived refugees in Georgia became completely self-sufficient within 180 days (source: CRSA).

group packs rice for refugees
group packs rice for refugees

In addition, LSG’s Savannah office provides additional support for refugee children through the Refugee School Impact Program, launched in spring of 2015. This program aims to improve the academic performance and social adjustment of refugee children. LSG’s School Liaison and a team of volunteers support families through tutoring, individualized case management, regular assessments, and meetings with parents, teachers, and school administration.

We need your help.

refugees sign live with love, not fear
refugees sign live with love, not fear

LSG relies on volunteers and donors to help the many families in need in Georgia.

Pastor Stephen Friedrich of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Marietta, Ga. shared his reason for volunteering:

"Participating in the MLK Day of Service with LSG was a tangible way for me to put my Christian faith into action. We believe that God's kingdom is a place where all are fed and welcomed. Yesterday I was part of a group working with God for his kingdom right in our midst. For me, there is no greater joy!"

Refugee resettlement is only a portion of what we do and who we serve.We help find homes for children through Foster Care and Adoption.  We keep families together who at risk of separation through our Family Intervention Services.  LSG provides disaster relief when needed.  If you are interested in volunteering with Lutheran Service of Georgia, please contact us at 404-875-0201 or click here to get involved.

 

Little Helpers + Hope Tree Make A Merry Christmas for Refugees

 
Hope Tree lsg
Hope Tree lsg

Thank you to our friends from Little Helpers, who bought and delivered gifts for all members of 2 refugee families as part of our Hope Tree program, in which volunteers purchase gifts for refugee children in need. This was an especially significant experience for the group, as some members were refugees themselves.

Here’s what Tran Smith, who organizes the Atlanta Little Helpers group, said about the experience:

Hope Tree atlanta
Hope Tree atlanta

Our family volunteer group Little Helpers wanted to reach out to people in need this holiday, but participating in the LSG's Hope Tree for Refugees was more fulfilling and important than just that. Some of the volunteers were also refugees who came to this country seeking freedom and finding much support and love. Tears flowed as some of us experienced that "full circle moment" when we were face to face with the families who simply asked for winter clothes and a large pot to cook meals this holiday.  Although there was a language barrier, we had no trouble communicating because it was out of respect and love that we were brought together. A big thanks to LSG for allowing us to have this opportunity and for doing such great work to help others achieve their independence."

Hope Tree
Hope Tree

Little Helpers is a program that works with young people to help them understand the value of volunteering, recognize the blessings in their lives, broaden their community perspective and feel the sense of accomplishment received from lending a helping hand. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to raise confident children who incorporate community service into their lives on a regular basis.

Little Helpers was created in Memphis, but today has chapters across the country including the Rochester, NY; Mooresville/Charlotte, NC; Denver, CO; Atlanta, GA and Tampa/St. Pete, FL.

Hope Tree refugee
Hope Tree refugee
Hope Tree
Hope Tree
 

Thank You for Supporting LSG for GA Gives Day!

LSG Unselfie Special thanks to all of you who donated to Lutheran Services of Georgia on November 12th in celebration of Georgia Gives Day. Thanks to YOU, we raised over $6,350 and we were also approved to receive additional matching funding from the SunTrust Financial Wellness Challenge.

We appreciate our many donors who joined us in working to help find, strengthen and create homes for those we serve. Thank you!

Celebrate National Adoption Month with LSG Rome!

national adoption month November is National Adoption Month! National Adoption Month is recognized each year to raise awareness of adoption throughout the country, to challenge myths about adoption, and to celebrate the love and support that is shared between adoptive families and their children.

This year, through our Specialized Foster Care program in Rome, we have matched many exceptional children with their forever families, who have opened their homes and welcomed them as their own. We think this incredible gift is something to celebrate!

We will be hosting an adoption appreciation pizza party to celebrate all of the life-changing connections that have been made between adoptive families and their children. We are so grateful for each family that has chosen to partner with us to start or expand their families, and we invite them to join us in celebration this Saturday:

LSG Adoption Appreciation Party Date: Saturday, November 7th Time: 11:30am-2:30pm Place: Mellow Mushroom              238 Broad St, Rome, GA 30161

The party is sure to be lots of fun, and a great way for children to socialize and make new friends, so please don’t miss it! We will have lots of fun activities for the kids and plenty of pizza and snacks for everyone. We encourage parents to bring their entire families so that they can get to know other families like theirs, and share stories and support with one another.

We know that the adoption process can be long, and that it is not always easy; however, to parents who have completed the process and gotten to welcome their child or children home, we say this: you did it! You not only changed the life of a child who longed for love and support, but you navigated a complicated process and came out on the other end as a stronger family with a wonderful addition.

We are so grateful for your partnership and the incredible gift that you have given, so please join us in celebrating your family!

One Week Until GA Gives Day!

GA Gives 1(1)-page-001 November 12 is Georgia Gives Day, and Lutheran Services of Georgia needs your help! LSG is committed to raising $10,000 in one 24-hour period to support individuals and families in need throughout Georgia. On November 12, visit our Georgia Gives profile to donate and help us win additional funding only available on that day. You can also increase your Georgia Gives impact by the following:

POWER HOURS

By making your GA Gives donation at specific times throughout the day, you increase LSG's chances of winning "Power Hour" prizes. Please consider giving during the following hours: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

BECOME A FUNDRAISER

There's still time to become a GA Gives fundraiser for us! Go to our Georgia Gives profile and click "Become a Fundraiser" to create your own profile. Use your profile to ask friends and family to support LSG. It's a great way to show how much you love LSG and inspire others to give. If you need help setting up your profile, click here.

GIVE TODAY

It's not too early to donate to LSG's Georgia Gives page! Click here to give now.

Thank you for supporting LSG! For more information about Georgia Gives Day, contact Allison Hood at ahood@lsga.org or 404-591-7067. You can also contact Allison if you'd like to make an offline donation that day.

LSG Celebrates Heroes of Hope at 8th Annual Gala

 

On Thursday, September 17, Lutheran Services of Georgia celebrated community heroes at the 8th Annual Heroes of Hope Gala. LSG staff, supporters, volunteers, donors, and clients gathered at the Historic Dekalb Courthouse for this evening of celebration.

Attendees enjoyed a buffet dinner, drinks, live music, and silent auction featuring items and experiences given by 43 generous donors. Rick Probst, host of radio show FaithTalk LiVE, served as emcee for the evening's program. LSG unveiled its brand-new agency video, created by vLink Solutions, to applause from the room.

Two LSG clients graciously shared their stories with the crowd. Mohamad Nazir Hussain, a refugee,  talked about his perilous journey from Burma to Thailand to Malaysia and finally to resettlement in the United States. He thanked LSG and his case managers for all their support in helping him, his wife, and his four children adjust to life in Georgia.

 
 

Mrs. Shamae Crosswhite spoke about her experience with LSG's Adoption program. She and her husband Perry are the proud parents of a brother and sister adopted through LSG. 9-year-old Nicolas and 6-year-old Kara joined their mother as she thanked LSG for helping make their family possible.

LSG then presented the 2015 Heroes of Hope awards to Kelly James and Kareem Ahmed of R. James Properties, John Timpe, and John Blend of Goshen Valley. The heroes spoke about their experiences with LSG and serving the community, and accepted their awards. Click here to read more about our 2015 Heroes.

 
rjamesaward
rjamesaward
johnblendaward
johnblendaward
 

The program wrapped up with a live auction as attendees pledged $10,00- to support LSG's various programs throughout Georgia. Attendees stayed afterwards to place final silent auction bids and to chat with new and old friends.

Lutheran Services of Georgia wants to thank everyone who made this event possible: our staff, supporters, silent auction donors, sponsors, clients, and, of course, our Heroes of Hope. LSG raised close to $40,000 to support individuals, children, and families throughout Georgia. More photos from the night are available on our Facebook page. Contact Allison Hood at ahood@lsga.org or 404-591-7067 for information regarding the 2016 Heroes and other events.

 

Announcing the 2015 Heroes of Hope

Hereos of Hope Logo-page-001Lutheran Services of Georgia is pleased to announce our 2015 Heroes of Hope! Each year, LSG honors community heroes at the annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala.

John W. Blend, III

John W. Blend, III serves as Chairman andJohn Blend Chief Executive of Goshen Valley Foundation, the parent of Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, Goshen New Beginnings, and Goshen Homes. Established in 1998, the Cherokee County-based organization provides residential care, independent living programs for young men and young women entering adulthood, and foster homes for reunited siblings. John serves as a Lifetime Council member at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia. He and his wife Connie have 2 children and 4 granddaughters. John also serves as President and Chairman of Together Georgia, Georgia's Child Welfare Private Provider Associate.

John Timpe

John Timpe is a life-long Lutheran and a John Timpecharter member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, founded in 1981 in Alpharetta, Georgia. He served in the U.S. Navy before working as a salesman and executive in the food industry. Since moving to Georgia 38 years ago, John has been actively involved in the local community. He has been instrumental in raising awareness and funding for LSG over the past 14 years. John has one daughter.

R. James Properties, Inc:

R. James Properties, Inc. was formed in December 1993 by Richard James to provide management for apartment properties. The company presently manages approximately thirty properties totaling more than 4,000 units. In 2006, R. James Properties acquired Clarkston Townhomes, a 91-unit apartment community in Clarkston, Georgia. Since then, the management company has developed strong relationships with several refugee social service organizations and is committed to providing clean, affordable housing for refugees.

This year's Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala will be held September 17 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Historic DeKalb Courthouse. Click here for more information, sponsorship opportunities, and to register.

LSG Launches First-Ever LSG Kids Club

20150714_052319 On July 13, 2015, Lutheran Services of Georgia launched its first-ever season of LSG Kids Club! LSG Kids Club is a summer program that aims to promote healing, adjustment, and confidence-building for recently resettled refugee kids who have experienced trauma. The program provides a fun and therapeutic introduction to life in Georgia, along with giving kids an opportunity to make new friends.

Eleven children and teens participated in the first week of the four-week LSG Kids Club. They came from four different countries--Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, and Nepal--and spoke three different languages--Somali, Nepalese, and Burmese. The kids enjoyed activities and field trips including yoga, pet therapy, skills-focused games and physical activities, and more.

LSG is partnering with an growing list of community members and organizations to make this program possible. Current partners include:

  • Raksha, Inc, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization for the South Asian community. Special thanks goes to Niekachi Nwogo for conducting therapy sessions throughout the program.
  • Funda Yilmaz, LPC and yoga instructor who specializes in trauma therapy and healing through Grounded Yoga
  • Atlanta Pet Partners, an organization that provided pet therapy
  • Living Grace Lutheran Church for hosting the program

LSG also thanks our volunteers and interpreters.

  • Padam Rai, Nepali Interpreter
  • Abdulrahman, Somali Interpeter
  • Kathryn Farmer, Dance Instructor
  • Pam Amy-Cupp, Camp Counselor
  • Annie Goodman, Camp Counselor
  • Matthew Johnson, Camp Counselor
  • Jessie Burnette, Camp Coordinator and LSG staff member
  • Melanie Johnson, LSG staff member and volunteer

LSG Kids Club is supported, in part, through a grant from the Lutheran Services for Children Endowment at the ELCA Foundation. For more photos from the Club, visit our Facebook page. To learn more about LSG Kids Club, contact Coordinator Jessie Burnette at jburnette@lsga.org or (706) 889-3348.

Announcing the 2015 LSG Hunger Walk/Run Champion

trinity Lutheran Services of Georgia is excited to announce the 2015 Champion of LSG's Hunger Walk/Run Church Competition: Trinity Lutheran Church! Trinity raised $11,902 to fight hunger.

Thanks to all who joined LSG in fighting hunger at the 2015 Hunger Walk/Run. LSG had 34 teams participate with 289 walkers and runners. Together, LSG supporters raised over $77,000 for hunger-fighting programs throughout Georgia. LSG appreciates all those who walked, ran, volunteer, or otherwise supported us.

LSG also congratulates the other top finishers in the 2015 LSG Hunger Walk/Run Church Competition. Here are the results:

1) Trinity Lutheran Church (Lilburn) - $11,902 2) Cross of Life Lutheran Church (Roswell) - $8,533 3) St. John's Lutheran Church (Atlanta) - $7,155 4) Price of Peace Lutheran Church (Alpharetta) - $6,260 5) Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Marietta) - $4,009 6) Grace Lutheran Church (Carrolton) - $3,683.55 7) Epiphany Lutheran Church (Conyers) - $3,306 8) Rivercliff Lutheran Church - $2,735 9) St. Luke's Lutheran Church (Atlanta) - $2,324.90 10) Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (Woodstock) - $1,885

For more photos from the day, including team photos, please visit our Facebook page. Contact Abi Koning, LSG's Communications and Public Relations Manager, at akoning@lsga.org if you would like a photo emailed to you.

LSG is honored to be a beneficiary of the Hunger Walk/Run, a project of the Atlanta Community Food Bank. We appreciate the opportunity to work with them each year on this event. LSG has been a benefiting partner for almost 30 years and we look forward to another great Hunger Walk/Run on March 13, 2016!

LSG to Host Orientation for Short-Term Foster Care for Unaccompanied Children

uac featured image Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) will host an orientation at the Mike Daniels Recreation Center (LaGrange) on Monday, May 11, 2015 at 6 p.m. for individuals interested in providing short-term foster homes for Unaccompanied Children. The Mike Daniels Recreation Center is located at 1220 Lafayette Parkway, LaGrange, Georgia 30241.

LSG is collaborating with LaGrange area organizations and ministries to create safe, welcoming foster homes for children under the age of 13 who have migrated unaccompanied to the United States. LSG is seeking families in the LaGrange area to foster unaccompanied children for short-term periods until they are united with a family member or approved sponsor in the United States.

Prospective foster families must undergo a three-stage approval process involving orientation, training, and a thorough family assessment. The approval process takes three to four months to complete. Families with one bilingual adult are preferred.

Lutheran Services of Georgia invites interested parties to attend this informational meeting for more information on foster care as a compassionate and necessary response to the crisis of unaccompanied children. To register for the upcoming orientation and for further details, contact Gayle Cruz at gcruz@lsga.org. Click here for more information about unaccompanied children.

Expressions for Hope Supports Children and Families in Savannah

ar7

On Saturday, April 18th, Lutheran Services of Georgia held Expressions for Hope, its 3rd Annual Spring Art Show Fundraiser to benefit children, adults, and families in need in the Savannah area. Attendees gathered at the historic Lutheran Church of the Ascension on Wright Square for an evening of art. Attendees listened to excellent live piano from Cornelia Ewaldsen and Michael Braz while enjoying a range of original works and prints for sale from local artists.

This year's artists included Jacqueline Carcagno, Gwen Frazier, Jonathan Keller, Ann Lutz, Tiffani Taylor, Diane Walling, and Michael Wozniak. One attendee who has participated in all three Art Shows commented that the quality of this year's art was especially high. All artists donated a portion of their sales and several donated their entire sales to LSG in Savannah.

Wright Square Cafe catered the event and Johnnie Ganem provided the beverages. Both companies were silver sponsors for the event, as was Pace Lighting. LSG thanks our sponsors, our community partner Art Rise Savannah, participating artists, and all those who volunteered their time and resources to make this event a success.
 

LSG Celebrates New Americans at the Capitol!

IMG_5736 By Emily Laney, Atlanta Program Manager for Refugee and Immigration Services

On February 11, 2015, Lutheran Services of Georgia's Refugee and Immigration Services team participated in the New Americans Celebration at the Capitol, organized by the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (CRSA). Fifteen LSG staff, interns, and clients attended this exciting annual event, joining representatives from other resettlement agencies throughout Georgia.

Our group visited the offices of elected officials to distribute information about refugees in Georgia and the many ways refugees contribute to making Georgia a great state. We used the page system to invite our elected officials to speak with us. Several came out to meet with us, and we were able to introduce them to many of our clients and staff members who have incredible stories to share.

In the afternoon, our group participated in a moving Naturalization Ceremony at the Capitol. Students in Clarkston High School's culinary program served appetizers to celebration participants and legislators. Twelve former refugees, including two former LSG clients, took the oath to become American citizens. Both clients were resettled by LSG five years ago, and finally received their U.S. citizenship. The Naturalization Ceremony was a powerful moment for the staff, clients, and elected officials who attended the event. Our clients have been through so much, and it was wonderful to see them take this huge step towards discovering their own American Dream.

 

 

Volunteers Serve Refugees and Immigrants at the 2015 Lutheran MLK Day of Service!

rice volunteers On January 19, 2015, volunteers from all over metro Atlanta honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by serving immigrants and refugees! The Lutheran MLK Day of Service was a huge success. Here's the breakdown:

VOLUNTEERS

218 individual volunteers came out to serve from 14 volunteer groups and congregations, including:

  • Generation On/Mark It Up Leadership Team
  • St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Decatur
  • Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Atlanta
  • St. John's Lutheran Church, Atlanta
  • Blessed Assurance Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
  • CD Owens District (COGIC) Youth Department
  • Cross of Life Lutheran Church, Roswell
  • Christ the King Lutheran Church, Peachtree Corners
  • Atlanta University Center Lutheran Campus Ministry
  • Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Atlanta
  • Candler School of Theology/Emory University
  • Girl Scout Troup 13491
  • Rock of Ages Lutheran Church
  • Helping Mamas

DONATIONS

The Lutheran MLK Day of Service received many generous donations, including:

  • Over 3600 pounds of rice packaged as "welcome food" for refugee families
  • 10 boxes of gently used children's books donated to children in the Clarkston refugee community
  • Clothing, diapers, strollers, and Pack 'n Plays for 30 refugee families with babies and young children, donated by Helping Mamas.

bookmarks

SERVICE

Volunteers participated in several service projects:

  • Volunteers packaged rice into family-sized bags of "welcome food" for newly arrived refugee families.
  • Volunteers read books to children in daycare in Clarkston's refuge community.
  • Volunteers sorted children's books to be distributed to children in Clarkston's daycare centers and schools.
  • Volunteers wrote letters of compassionate support to 13 immigrants in detention centers across Georgia.

THANK YOU!

LSG would like to thank all 218 of our generous volunteers for coming out and serving with us. A special thanks goes out to:

  • Gene Lewis--Lutheran MLK Day of Service event organizer
  • Our Event Co-Sponsors: Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Lutheran Theological Center in Atlanta; and the Women of the ELCA
  • Rock of Ages Lutheran Church for donating their space and 1000 pounds of rice
  • Helping Mamas, for collecting, sorting, and donating clothing, diapers, strollers, and Pack 'n Plays for refugee children
  • LSG staff who helped organize and lead the event

For more photos from the Day of Service, visit our Facebook page. Volunteers also shared their motives for serving immigrants and refugees. Click here to see what they had to say.

Help LSG Feed Refugees at the Lutheran MLK Day of Service

mlk rice

Each year, at the Lutheran MLK Day of Service, individuals, congregations, and community groups come together to serve refugees through service projects, including Rice for Refugees. Have you ever wondered why Lutheran Services of Georgia collects rice? The Rice for Refugees project is one crucial way that LSG welcomes refugee families to the United States. After fleeing persecution, conflict, and other dangerous situations in their home countries, most refugees arrive in the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their backs. LSG provides refugees with food, shelter, clothing, cultural information, and other support during their early days in the United States. Rice is considered a staple food in many countries throughout the world, and is a central part of the diets of many refugees. When you donate rice to LSG, you are quite literally feeding those who might otherwise go hungry.

On January 19, 2015, volunteers at the Lutheran MLK Day of Service will donate and pack rice into 5-pound bags to be given to newly arrived refugees. LSG needs lots of rice to ensure that all of our refugees are fed, so please bring as much rice as you are able.

Other Lutheran MLK Day of Service volunteer opportunities include sorting new or gently used children's books, reading to refugee children, and writing letters of compassion to immigrant detainees at non-citizen detention centers. LSG will also be accepting donations of new and gently used children's books. Click here to RSVP for any of our service projects.

If you are unable to attend the Day of Service, but would still like to donate rice or children's books, donations will be accepted at Rock of Ages Lutheran Church (5135 Memorial Dr., Stone Mountain, GA 30083) from 12 p.m. until 1 p.m. on Friday, January 16 and Sunday, January 18. For more information on donations, or to arrange a drop-off, please contact Melanie Johnson at mjohnson@lsga.org or 678-686-9619.

To see photos from last year's Lutheran Day of Service, click here.

LSG Participates in National Adoption Month Forum

Group Photo - Fair Participants  

In honor of National Adoption Month, Lutheran Services of Georgia joined other agencies at Ray of Hope Christian Church on Sunday, November 9, 2014. Each November, a Presidential Proclamation launches activities and celebrations to help build awareness of adoption and the foster care system throughout the United States. This year's theme is "Promoting and Supporting Sibling Connections" and pays tribute to the unique bond between siblings.

Tha National Adoption Month forum at Ray of Hope brought together Lutheran Services of Georgia, Wednesday's Child, the Georgia Department of Human Services, and other groups to share information during two worship services. A panel of four individuals--two current adoptive parents, one child that has been adopted, and a psychiatrist--shared their stories and answered questions about foster care and adoption. The message for the day was  "It Takes A Village", further emphasizing the importance of caring for children in need of forever families. LSG staff members Latrice Stowe, Cynthia Kersee, and Tasondra Terrell represented LSG at the event.

LSG thanks Ray of Hope Christian Church for hosting this celebration and informational session. For more information about adopting through Lutheran Services of Georgia, click here.

LSG Hosts Orientation for Fostering Unaccompanied Children

children

On Thursday, October 30, 2014, Lutheran Services of Georgia hosted an orientation for individuals interested in opening their homes to unaccompanied migrant children. In response to outreach efforts in LaGrange, several families came out to LaGrange Memorial Library to learn more about becoming short-term, transitional foster homes for this vulnerable population.

The evening began with snacks and introductions. Gayle Cruz, LSG’s Specialized Foster Care Recruiter, and Anton Flores, co-founder of LaGrange’s Alterna, presented on short-term foster care. Attendees watched a video explaining the conditions that cause unaccompanied children to flee their countries of origin and the treacherous journeys they make to the United States. Afterwards, LSG gave out packets of information including applications to begin the foster care training process. Five families expressed interest in becoming short-term foster homes, and two families have already taken the first steps to begin training.

LSG is collaborating with other LaGrange area organizations and ministries to create safe, welcoming foster homes and a supportive community for unaccompanied children. A local recreational center has offered to provide space for the trainings and for family gatherings once the children have arrived. LSG is grateful to community partners, including the LaGrange Memorial Library, for their support.

LSG is currently determining the next location in metro Atlanta and the surrounding areas where foster homes for unaccompanied children will be developed. Prospective foster families must undergo a three-stage approval process involving orientation, training, and a thorough family assessment. The approval process takes three to four months to complete. LSG expects to begin receiving children from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in February 2015. Families with one bilingual adult are preferred, but those without will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster home, contact Gayle Cruz at gcruz@lsga.org or 404-207-0131.

Become a Hero of Hope on Georgia Gives Day!

ggd2014_logo_web_72ppiEach year, Lutheran Services of Georgia honors community heroes at the Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala. However, we recognize that our communities and churches are full of heroes bringing hope, healing, and strength to people in need every single day. On November 13, continue being a Hero of Hope by giving to LSG on Georgia Gives Day. LSG has set a goal to raise $10,000 on Georgia Gives Day. By giving even a small donation, you help us continue to provide quality services and support. Donations of $10 or more also make LSG eligible to compete for additional funds and awards throughout the day.

To give, simply visit our GA Gives profile on November 13, make an online donation, and share our link with your friends and family. Your generosity can inspire them to become Heroes of Hope as well!

To thank you for your heroism, all those who donate online on GA Gives Day will receive a special "Hero of Hope" badge for their Facebook profile picture. You'll also receive a brand new story of one of the many clients LSG serves.

Click here for more ways you can support LSG on Georgia Gives Day. Thank you for being our Hero of Hope!

LSG Participates in Georgia's Inaugural Heart Gallery!

heart gallery Lutheran Services of Georgia recently participated in Georgia’s first-ever Heart Gallery! Now in its thirteenth year, Heart Gallery is a nationwide traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. On Saturday, November 1, 2014, LSG joined other adoption agencies at Savannah Christian Church to showcase 16 of the 600 waiting children in Georgia’s foster care system to prospective adoptive families.

LSG Savannah staff members Lydia McCrary, Tacarra Hayes, and Teer Mitchell helped showcase several children who are part of LSG’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids caseload, including a sibling group of three, a teenage girl, a medically fragile toddler, and a sibling group of two pre-teen girls. Several families expressed interest in adoption, while others asked questions about becoming foster parents or providing respite through LSG. Next week, LSG will host an adoption party where these families will have the opportunity to meet many of the children.

LSG is excited to have participated in the inaugural Heart Gallery, especially as being showcased in the Heart Gallery triples a child’s chance of being adopted into a forever family. Families who are not interested in adopting but would still like to support foster children can donate money to help pay for the cost of showcasing a child in the gallery. LSG looks forward to more events and hopes to participate in the next gallery, scheduled to take place in Bulloch County.

Click here for more information about adopting through LSG or click here to learn more about the Heart Gallery of Georgia.

Win Up to $500 for LSG with an "Unselfie"!

unselfie

Georgia Gives Day is less than a month away on Thursday, November 13! As November 13 draws near, Georgia Gives Day wants to see your stories of why you give...and give you a chance to win up to $500 for nonprofits like Lutheran Services of Georgia.

Want to Support LSG? Here's How it Works:
1) Between now and November 3, take a selfie that shows why you're giving to LSG on Georgia Gives Day.
2) Post it to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and tag it #unselfie and #GAgivesday. Georgia Gives Day will be sharing occasionally from the GA Gives Day Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. You can also tag your photo with #LSGGives or email it to Abi Koning at akoning@lsga.org and we'll share on the LSG pages.
3) On the week of November 10, GA Gives will share the top finalists on Facebook and count on followers to vote for their favorite with a like. The top three vote-getters will receive a donation to the GA Gives Day nonprofit of their choice in their name--$500 for first place, and $100 each for second and third.
And don't forget: On November 13, visit our profile and give what you can. Every donation, no matter how small, supports those in need and helps us compete for GA Gives prizes.
For more ways to support LSG on Georgia Gives Day, click here.

Lutheran Services of Georgia Honors Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength

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On Thursday, September 25, 2014, Lutheran Services of Georgia honored community heroes at the seventh annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala. Held at the Defoor Centre, the gala brought together LSG staff, volunteers, and supporters to recognize the Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, Mr. Erroll B. Davis, and R.N.C. Industries for bringing hope, healing, and strength to those in need.

The evening began with a cocktail reception and silent auction. Over 35 individuals, corporations, and organizations generously donated gift cards, handmade scarves, brewery tours, hotel stays, and more for the auction. As attendees mingled and out-bid each other, they enjoyed live music from local jazz musicians, the TAJ trio.

Scott Light, news anchor for CBS 46, served as the Master of Ceremonies, expressing his excitement at telling the “underreported stories” of people doing good work in their communities. As attendees enjoyed a three-course meal, LSG staff and clients told stories from Foster Care, Adoptions, and Refugee and Immigration Services. Robert and Geraldine Smith, a couple who has both adopted through LSG and served as foster parents, shared how LSG helped them open their home to children. Jamshid Samadi, a former interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan who arrived in the U.S. on a Special Immigrant Visa, thanked LSG for providing him with employment services.

Attendees watched tribute videos about LSG’s 2014 Heroes and the heroes were given the opportunity to speak. Adam and Derek Peterson introduced their parents, the Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, praising them for their “intentional lives full of faith, service to others, and most importantly, good times.” Darrel and Mary’s ties run deep with Lutheran Social Services agencies and with the Lutheran church. Darrel and Mary thanked LSG for bridging Lutheran congregations and the community through social ministry to those in need.

LSG next recognized Mr. Erroll B. Davis, the former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, for his commitment to education and to Georgia’s children. Erroll spoke about his connections with Hmong and Vietnamese refugees resettled in Wisconsin with help from Lutherans. He thanked his wife Elaine for her support throughout their 22 years of marriage.

LSG then honored local family-owned business R.N.C. Industries for partnering with LSG to employ recently arrived refugees. Taylor Clark, Vice President of Marketing, and Maria Cornejo, the Human Resources Manager, represented the company. Taylor shared her personal story of watching her family’s business grown and affirmed R.N.C. Industries’ commitment to give their employees a brighter future.

LSG thanks all those who made this celebration possible, especially silent auction donors, supporters, the Defoor Centre, Scott Light, and our 2014 Heroes of Hope. We look forward to 2015, when we will celebrate other community heroes who bring hope, healing, and strength to those in need.

 For photos from the event, visit our Facebook page. To watch the tribute videos, check out our YouTube channel.