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Top 10 Moments of 2019

As the year comes to an end, we reflect back on favorite moments in 2019:

1. We welcomed 394 courageous refugee newcomers from 11 different countries, including new nationalities, such as Marcel from Ivory Coast and a family of seven from Guatemala. Since 1981, we have served refugees from 49 different countries of origin. 

2. One special reunion was Khaled and Mariam from Syria who were reunited with their children and grandchildren after four years of separation. You can watch their beautiful family reunion here. We had not welcomed a Syrian family since April 2017 due to President Trump’s Muslim Ban.

3. We celebrated our Executive Director Cole Varga and driver Fung Mang for 10 years of service at Exodus and learned about their unique personal and professional journeys.

4. In June, we hosted a World Refugee Day Reggae Party in the Cottage Home Neighborhood. Indy showed it truly welcomes all as we came together with our refugee neighbors to enjoy global music, international food, friendship, and advocacy. 

5. Our annual Celebrate the Life Ahead Gala at the Indianapolis Conrad was a huge success. You helped us raise $149,000 for refugee services and recognize four, well-deserving honorees: Volunteer of the Year: Megan Benson, Community Partner of the Year: Second Presbyterian Church, Employer of the Year: Aramark, and Refugee of the Year: Fikiri Nkulwe.

6. In response to the continued attacks on the refugee resettlement program, we increased our advocacy efforts in 2019. Our efforts included 2 trips to Washington D.C. to advocate alongside Refugee Council USA and our national agency, Church World Service. Highlights include Rep. Susan Brooks joining the House Refugee Caucus, Rep. Andre Carson co-sponsoring the GRACE Act, and securing letters of consent for refugee resettlement from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb as required by President Trump’s latest Executive Order.

7. The Youth Program matched 32 teens with a volunteer mentor for a 9-month program and also improved the structure of the program by working with representatives of the National Mentoring Resource Center to align with national best practices. Additionally, the Youth Program has enrolled 135 students in school, and 105 youth have participated in Youth Cultural Orientation, which prepares refugee youth for life in the United States.

8. Exodus’ Employment Team completed 261 job placements in the fiscal year. Early employment is critical for achieving self-sufficiency. In addition, clients found 198 jobs on their own, putting to use the skills they learned in trainings facilitated by our  employment and cultural orientation teams.

9. We began a pilot program this fall to focus on literacy skills for clients with no formal education. This was identified as a need when we realized that many of our English students were not ready for a basic Level 1 class, which presupposes literacy skills. This program has grown from a once-a-week pilot to a four-day-a-week new level in our English program. Students have raved about it, saying that this is exactly what they need; and teachers are noticing slow but steady progress in this class.

10. And, last, but not least, our favorite moment was YOU– the volunteers, donors, partners, and advocates who make the welcome possible.

Thank you for making these special moments possible. We could not have done it without you. Help make even more proud moments possible by making a gift today.