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IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE SERVICES

Helping refugees and immigrants successfully integrate into their new communities.

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Client Story

Ramish supported the U.S. in Afghanistan.

Now LCSNW supports his fresh start in the U.S.

Ramish spent years in his home country of Afghanistan as a driver for U.S. military forces. However, when American troops left the country and the Taliban assumed power in 2021, safety became uncertain for Ramish and others who’d worked for the U.S.

 

Fortunately for Ramish, he qualified for a Special Immigrant Visa that made it possible to leave Afghanistan and start a new life in the Pacific Northwest. He arrived in late January 2024, and in less than two months, he’d made a lot of progress toward building that new life.

 

“It’s a new world for me,” said 32-year-old Ramish.

 

Shirshah Noorian, a Case Manager on LCSNW’s Vancouver refugee resettlement team, picked up Ramish from Portland International Airport and took him to temporary housing. In the days and weeks that followed, LCSNW rapidly put pieces in place for Ramish to get his life on track.

 

Shirshah navigated systems and completed paperwork to enable Ramish to get medical care, enroll in English classes and cultural orientation, and receive money to purchase food until he could earn a paycheck. Shirshah came to the U.S. in 2019 with a Special Immigrant Visa, so he could relate to Ramish’s circumstances.

 

Our team also helped Ramish find housing and then covered his initial costs for housing. Around the same time, another single male receiving services from LCSNW also arrived from Afghanistan. The two were introduced and decided that they could be housemates.

 

By Ramish’s 42nd day in the U.S., he landed a job with the help of our Vancouver employment specialists.

 

"Working here, I have met a lot of good people,” said Ramish, who has a job at a local Walmart. "If you make a mistake, they encourage you, it’s not a problem. They treat me very well.” 

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Staff Profile

Svetlana Kisilitsa

Svetlana made a huge impact in the Vancouver and Portland area for nearly three decades before her tragic death this year. A native of Azerbaijan who came to the U.S. around age 12, Svetlana was hired by LCSNW in 1996. From the start, she was involved with our immigration legal counseling and advocacy program, today known as Safe Route Immigration. 

 

“She helped thousands of refugees and immigrants gain legal status and reunite with their families in the United States,” said Jasenka Cehajic, a Program Manager for the Safe Route team.

“I have never met someone with so many connections and such positive regard from everyone who knew her,” said Mindy Johnston, an LCSNW Program Director, who worked alongside Svetlana at the Vancouver office for years. 

 

Svetlana passed away on Feb. 24, 2024, due to injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. She is survived by her husband and five sons. The LCSNW team misses Svetlana’s smile and kind spirit every day.

Volunteer Profile

Clyde Ellis

Clyde, a retired social worker, spends nearly five hours a week tutoring students in LCSNW English as a Second Language courses. Sometimes he teaches important concepts needed to pass the U.S. citizenship exam. Other times, he teaches everyday language to someone who knows just enough to get by as a worker in construction trades.

 

Clyde, who tutors from his Clark County, Washington, home, is always a patient conversation partner.  “I’m getting out of it more than I’m giving, that's for sure,” he said.

 

Clyde is thankful to his daughters for putting him on the path to LCSNW. One daughter inspired him to take up learning a foreign language late in life; the other daughter teaches ESL and suggested he become an ESL volunteer because of the work we do at LCSNW to help new arrivals.

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By the Numbers

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1,420

Refugees Resettled

27

Refugee Countries
of Origin 

276

Asylum-seekers Served (Puget Sound)

114

Complex Medical Program Clients 

149

Cultural Orientation and Empowerment Clients 

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457

Citizenship and Naturalization Applications 

300

Family-Based Petitions 

503

Green Card Applications and Visas 

337

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Requests 

223

Citizenship class students 

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130+

Afghan clients winning asylum 

Staff Story

Meet Olesia

Olesia Dmytriieva is a Ukrainian immigrant who fled her homeland after the Russian invasion in 2022. Olesia is a case manager for our PRIME program in Vancouver, Washington. PRIME stands for Promoting Refugee Integration, Mobility, and Empowerment. It helps refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian parolees by connecting them to services such as legal assistance, medical care, affordable housing, ESL conversation circles, and transportation access.

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“We express our sincere gratitude to the entire organization as we feel the warmth and care of each employee. Many thanks to all employees for their help.” 

Refugee Resettlement Services client, Vancouver, Washington

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