Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) recently selected Lutheran Services of Georgia to pilot the Refugee Employment Mentoring Program with Higher, LIRS’s national employment initiative. LSG was selected from among 23 resettlement offices across the nation because of its commitment to employment security for refugees and its tradition of welcome.
The Refugee Employment Mentoring Program aims to accomplish two goals: to support long-term career advancement for refugees and to deepen social connections between refugees and their communities. LSG will match 30 mentors with 30 refugees who will commit to weekly meetings for at least three months. The mentor will act as a job coach, equipping the refugee to develop skills, identify long-term career goals, and create a plan to reach those goals.
Through mentoring relationships, refugees receive the opportunity to expand their social networks. Upon arrival in Georgia, refugees often face significant barriers to community integration. Language skills and difficulties navigating the institutions and customs of a new culture can leave refugees vulnerable to marginalization. This program connects refugees and long-term local residents who can work together to build a more cohesive and vibrant community.
LSG currently operates refugee resettlement programs in both Atlanta and Savannah. In the 2013 fiscal year, LSG resettled 461 refugees and provided services in employment, social adjustment, and information and referral to 1,371 refugees. The Refugee Employment Mentoring Program will allow LSG to provide additional support for clients to achieve economic self-sufficiency and become fully integrated in their communities. At the end of the project year, all findings will be compiled into a report that can offer guidance for other sites interested in pursuing a similar mentorship model.