SALT LAKE CITY — The director of the Utah Refugee Services Office hopes an upcoming volunteer orientation will result in many "beautiful matches" between volunteers and nonprofit organizations and government agencies that serve refugees in Utah.
The open house-style event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday, April 16, at the Utah Refugee Education and Training Center, 250 W. 3900 South. The center is located on Salt Lake Community College's Meadowbrook Campus.
"We hope there will be lots of beautiful matches made to benefit refugees," said director Asha Parekh.
The event will include a 30-minute training session that will be repeated throughout the day that will offer an overview of refugee resettlement in Utah, screenings of KUED's "Finding Home: Utah's Refugee Story," followed by a question-and-answer session.
Participating organizations and government agencies will also staff informational booths to answer more specific information about their programs, volunteer needs and requirements.
The following organizations have confirmed they will participate in the event: The Salt Lake City office of International Rescue Committee, Catholic Community Services of Utah, Asian Association of Utah, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, English Skills Learning Center, Promise South Salt Lake, Granite School District, AmeriCorpsVISTA and the Utah Asian Charitable Foundation.
"It's really nice because volunteers can talk directly to the coordinators at 10 or so agencies all at once in one place and then make a decision about where they would like to put their time and energy and sign up," Parekh said.
The office has conducted orientations in the past, but there has been increased demand for information since Sister Linda K. Burton, general Relief Society president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, urged women worldwide to serve refugees who live in their neighborhoods and communities. Sister Burton issued the call to serve during the general women's session of the church's recent general conference.
Some 50,000 refugees have been resettled in Utah since the end of the Vietnam War. The vast majority live in Salt Lake County, although a few hundred live in northern Utah.
Previous orientations have attracted 150 prospective volunteers, Parekh said.