Partner Spotlight | LFS Refugee Program

February 17, 2022 | Written by Sandi Swinford

Late last summer, Pulpit Rock started a conversation with the only “refugee settlement agency” in southern Colorado to find out how we could help. The agency, Lutheran Family Services, gladly shared their needs, and invited us to participate in the amazing work they’re already doing!

Sandi Swinford shares her experience as a volunteer with housing donations and setting up new apartments for refugee families.

It was a God thing. I wanted to help, but wasn’t sure how. It took a phone call and follow up email, and the following Monday, I was working in LFS offices returning donation calls. Lutheran Family Services was already in the news as the “only agency locally” who assisted refugees.

I have the highest regard for the LFS staff of seven. The volume of work they manage is huge. They have the best attitude, and work long hours. Things were busy in September, when I started volunteering. And only a month later, Colorado Springs was designated to only receive Afghan refugees. The numbers of refugees arriving increased dramatically at that time.

So Rowland Smith started working with LFS to form Cultural Mentor Teams at Pulpit Rock; the longer term support system the families need. Learn more about those teams here.

In a matter of one week, I went from my office and phone job to moving furniture and helping to set up apartments.
Each refugee family/person needs everything. They arrive here with nothing.

LFS provides personal goods (toothpaste, tooth brush, soap, shampoo, etc.), basic household cleaning supplies, basic kitchen items (plates, pots, bakeware and utensils), sheet sets, a new pillow, a blanket and comforter/quilt… The small apartment is then set up with beds, some dresser space, a dining table with chairs, and a sofa or chair for the living area.

Two or three of us pack the goods, load the truck, and then unload it and set up the apartment.

Working with the donations, I get to meet the people who drop off items. People are just great! They are so generous, and many ask “what else do you need.” Sometimes, I can be very specific and find the folks will purchase and deliver these things. Recently, we were out of port a cribs. One donor delivered 10 new ones (with sheets)!

The second and equally best part, is the chance to briefly meet some of the incoming refugees.
I’ve seen sheer joy on their faces, expressions of relief that they are finally at their new home, and have received genuine thanks.

I cannot imagine the refugees’ journey just to get to Colorado Springs. It’s amazing to know that the small things we are doing make a very big impact on them. 

In the past month, the volume of incoming refugees has tapered a bit, and LFS hired a much needed staff person to work the donations and move-ins exclusively. I am continuing my work at the storage facility with donations, organizing, and move-ins when needed.

In addition to forming Cultural Mentor Teams, Pulpit Rock was able to partner with Lutheran Family Services Refugee Program as part of the 2021 Christmas Offering! Because of your heartwarming generosity, LFS is able to meet basic needs for even more refugees beginning a new life here. 

I look forward to continuing my work with LFS and helping to further forge the bonds in helping the refugee families through the work Pulpit Rock is doing.

Want to learn more about the ways you can get involved? Find all the info here.   

You can also help by dropping off donations! Here’s a list of the items they’re accepting and where to drop them off.

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