Afghan Family Project - Stillwater
Help us welcome our new residents!Our welcoming spirit is rooted in our Oklahoma history and the diversity forged by OSU.
Oklahoma State University is proud to partner with Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma (CCEOK) and other community partners to welcome up to 40 Afghan families to America's Friendliest College Town!
Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma - Stillwater is actively seeking various household items. These families, many with young children, are arriving with nothing but the clothes on their back, so all donations are greatly appreciated.
- Dining room furniture
- Bedroom furniture
- Bed linens
- Living room furniture
- Kitchen utensils
- Cleaning supplies
- School supplies
Please contact CCEOK's donation lead Sarah Murray if you are interested in donating household items.
Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma - Stillwater is also seeking monetary donations. These will be given to Afghan families for long-term assistance through CCEOK family assistants on an as-needed basis and will be used for items such as food, clothing, toys for children, medical expenses, etc.
CCEOK is accepting the following:
- Walmart gift cards ($50 minimum)
- Monetary donations
Walmart gift cards can be mailed to:
Mike FitzGerald, Operations Manager
Catholic Charities Stillwater
711 N. Country Club Drive
Stillwater, OK 74075
Donations by check should be made out to Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma and sent to:
Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement
c/o Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church
711 N. Country Club Drive
Stillwater, OK 74075
- English Language and Intercultural Center: English as a second language and intercultural instruction
- Housing and Residential Life: Family housing at a reduced rate
- Housing and Residential Life Family Resource Center
- Parking and Transportation Services: Bus service to transport families
- Student and faculty volunteer translation services for the following languages: Dari, Pashto, Farsi and Urdu
What is this project about?
We are working to resettle up to 40 Afghan families into the Stillwater community. We anticipate the first families to arrive around November 1, with others to follow. We anticipate up to 40 families will be resettled in the community by early 2022. Once they are fully settled in the U.S., it is our hope that many decide to remain in Stillwater to become a permanent part of our community, but some might eventually move to other parts of the U.S. to reunite with family.
Are the new arrivals refugees?
For all practical purposes, yes. However, they do not have official “refugee” status from the U.S. Department of State because they did not have the opportunity to apply for refugee status. They are coming to the U.S. through the “SIV”, or Special Immigrant Visa program, which allows those affiliated with the U.S. and in danger from the Taliban to come to the U.S. More details on this program are here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/special-immg-visa-afghans-employed-us-gov.html
Locally, we are referring to the new arrivals as Afghan Families-Stillwater (AFS). Because they are not officially designated as refugees, these new arrivals will arrive with only limited financial assistance from the U.S. government. Most were unable to bring anything with them when they left their nation, which means there will be many needs to help them to reestablish their lives.
Which organizations are contributing to the project?
Catholic Charities is the only organization in Oklahoma authorized to resettle refugees. This particular project is being led by Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma (CCEOK). Other organizations that are contributing include Oklahoma State University and a number of churches and community organizations.
What do we know about those who are arriving?
Approximately 100,000 Afghan citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan in August and September of 2021. Some 70,000 of them will eventually be settled in the U.S., and Oklahoma will receive approximately 1800. Stillwater will settle approximately 40 families, or between 150-200 individuals, many are small children.
These are families that have been evacuated from Afghanistan in the last several months. Many of them supported U.S. service members, the U.S. government or non-governmental organizations in their home country. Most fled Afghanistan because their lives were endangered by the return of the Taliban. They are seeking to start a new life in the U.S. and raise their families away from the control of the Taliban government. The new arrivals are largely families with a number of young children. All refugees undergo a seven-step screening process that includes a background check and biometric checks, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
I have heard that many refugees have been ill. Are the new arrivals healthy and vaccinated?
Although there was some illness at some of the resettlement centers, everyone who is arriving in Stillwater is healthy and have been offered COVID vaccines. Most of those offered the vaccine took it. One part of the seven-step screening process was a medical check and providing vaccinations.
Will the new arrivals be allowed to work?
Yes, we anticipate that most of the adults will arrive with employment authorization or will receive it within the first month. Some might have sufficient English-language skills to begin working immediately, but we are not sure of that yet.
What are the most immediate needs?
The immediate housing needs have largely been met, but there will still need to be efforts in furniture donation, providing household goods, transportation and assisting in finding suitable employment opportunities. There is likely to be a significant amount of professional services needed as well, such as legal services, trauma counseling, ESL, for those who can provide that type of assistance.
How can a community member or organization assist in these efforts?
We are grateful for any community member who is willing to assist in these efforts and will attempt to provide opportunities for service. For financial donations, donors can provide funding at cceok.org/refugees, and designate “Stillwater.” All donations designated for Stillwater will be used to assist with this local effort.
For other types of assistance, volunteers can email Mike FitzGerald at firstname.lastname@example.org with a note about the type of assistance that you can provide. Also, please note any relevant experience or expertise.
For students, faculty, and staff at OSU, or for student organizations, contact the School of Global Studies and partnerships at email@example.com, and we will work with you to find an appropriate way to assist.
Anyone who signs up to volunteer is agreeing to follow Catholic Charities’ policies and procedures, especially regarding how we interact with the families once they arrive. All volunteers that will interact with the families must agree to a background check and complete child abuse prevention training.