Nonprofit receives grant for refugee program


A nonprofit has received a grant to create a Refugee Health Navigation and Education Program for recently resettled refugees in Grand Rapids.

The Wege Foundation recently granted Samaritas $45,000 to create the program.

Samaritas works to enable refugees to acclimate to life in America, and the organization’s leaders believe it is important for refugees to have resources and guidance after that initial work is complete.

Through this program, Samaritas will utilize a bilingual health navigator to support refugees resettled by Samaritas, as well as refugees resettled in West Michigan by other organizations.

The program helps refugees understand the complexities of the U.S. health care system. This could include accessing third-party referrals for specialist visits, managing medicines and prescriptions for themselves or their children, and providing health education and orientation materials written in their native languages.

Samaritas aims to assist 60 individuals in the first year of this program, said Christopher Cavanaugh, program manager for new Americans.

Refugees Samaritas resettles locally receive aid through this program, as well as those referred to Samaritas from clinics, hospitals and partner agencies.

“Through partnerships, we are working to build a sustainable program that continues indefinitely,” Cavanaugh said.

“We believe that serving both physical health and emotional health as they integrate into our communities is a vital part of our work,” said Vickie Thompson-Sandy, Samaritas president.

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