With influx of refugees, Catholic Community Services calls for furniture donations

Sep 1, 2023, 5:21 PM | Updated: 9:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — There is a lot of talk about the need to house Utah’s growing community, but as refugee families arrive, one organization isn’t so much concerned about the house itself as they are about what’s inside.

Catholic Community Services is one of the main providers for refugees in the Beehive State and often the ones to great them when they arrive.

Aden Batar, the Director of Migration and Refugee Services, oversees all of the programs and cases for new refugees.

Batar said Catholic Community Services provides a home, fully furnished with rent paid for, and check ins with the family for 15 months as it helps refugees find jobs and get their kids registered for school.

“When they first arrive, they just come with their suitcases,” Batar said.

Catholic Community Services owns a warehouse along 400 West and 400 South in Salt Lake where refugees can pick up newly made mattresses, manufactured by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Refugees can also find furniture donated by the community, diapers, soap, utensils, lamps and more at the warehouse.

The Catholic Community Services warehouse is to help refugees who arrive in Utah often with little more than a suitcase. (Erin Cox/KSL TV)

“This store would help them provide the basic things that they need to continue their living,” Batar said. Yet, in August, Batar realized supplies were running low, especially their furniture.

“The need is great is going to continue to grow,” Batar said.

In a typical fiscal year, Batar said Catholic Community Services serves around 600 refugees.

In June, the Biden administration announced the U.S. would welcome 125,000 refugees, and 1,300 would go to Utah. So far, Catholic Community Services has 800 refugees for the fiscal year – those numbers don’t include families fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Already, 300 Ukrainians have “just showed up at our door,” Batar said. The exponential increase has strained resources, which is why Batar hopes the community will help out.

“We’re asking for our community to support us so these families can be on their way on the road to self-sufficiency,” Batar said.

KSL interviewed one family who arrived just four days before. Khalil Jerodeyyeh brought his family of six from Jordan, joining his brother who moved to Utah two years ago.

“Everything is different,” Jerodeyyeh said through a translator. “The way of living, the design of houses, and the simple life.”

Jerodeyyeh hopes for new opportunities for his wife and kids, but he worries about the language barriers.

“I’m afraid of struggling with the language, especially for my wife,” Jerodeyyeh said. “I speak a little English, but she does not.”

Catholic Community Services provided Jerodeyyeh an apartment with furniture, pots and pans, beds and blankets, but his family still needs internet and school supplies. He also expressed he’s nervous about keeping his family warm when winter comes.

His family met with case workers at Catholic Community Services to help Jerodeyyeh find job opportunities. The CCS youth team helped enroll his four kids and when KSL interviewed Jerodeyyeh, they were still waiting to hear back from the health team about navigating Utah’s medical system.

“The job environment and job opportunities are different,” Jerodeyyeh said. “Here there is freedom.”

Catholic Community Services has an online list of needs for folks to donate.

It also has created an Amazon wishlist.

CCS offers to pick up any furniture donations. For more information, contact William Maloy at wmaloy@ccsutah.org.

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With influx of refugees, Catholic Community Services calls for furniture donations