Support RST in Reunifying Families

Good afternoon. My name is Russell Smith, and I recently started as the new CEO of Refugee Services of Texas.  I am writing to introduce myself, to let you know about RST's response to the crisis at the border, and to ask for your help.

I step into this role at a unique time in our country’s history. In the past few years, we have seen an unprecedented, dramatic drop in the number of refugees admitted into the country.  And recently, we have watched as zero tolerance policies have led to the separation of hundreds of children from their families.

There are around 700 families nationwide that will receive family reunification support services. RST is stepping in to this crisis to help. The agency has worked to help unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking for many years. These programs have seen a dramatic increase in need over the past few months.

Refugee Services of Texas is one partner who will provide comprehensive case management services to families reunited after being separated at the border. We've received an influx already of reunified families (including 22 referrals yesterday) in our Austin, Dallas, and Houston offices.

RST is hiring a Family Reunification Case Manager to address this emerging need, through home visits; introducing families to local resources; assisting them in accessing legal remedies, school, ESL, health and mental health services; and helping them navigate complex systems.

I invite you to join us to make a difference in the lives of families who have been torn apart.  A donation to RST will help support the new Family Reunification Case Manager as well as direct client costs needed to assist families.  We anticipate the need to keep growing in the short-term, and will transition this position to help work with our already-growing caseload of unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking when the emergent need subsides.

To support Refugee Services of Texas and our Family Reunification efforts, click the link below.  Thank you.

Russell A. Smith, LMSW

CEO of Refugee Services of Texas


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World Refugee Day – A day to take action

World Refugee Day – A day to take action

This week marks the annual celebration of World Refugee Day. 

In the past five weeks, U.S. officials have separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Leading up to World Refugee Day this year, the U.S. government has targeted for criminal prosecution parents and children fleeing violence and persecution, and seeking asylum in America. This unconscionable practice is needlessly tearing apart families and inflicting senseless harm on children and parents alike. It must stop immediately. 

Shining a Light on Creating Community: TCU Cultural Orientation Classes

Shining a Light on Creating Community: TCU Cultural Orientation Classes

Several groups of women sit huddled around fold-out tables at the Ladera Palms Apartment Clubhouse in Fort Worth, Texas. They are whispering amongst each other, asking questions, laughing and smiling at one another in between a presentation on dental hygiene. These women have made the treacherous journey to the United States as refugees. They are from Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, and Eritrea. They speak multiple languages and are now in the process of learning English with the help of Refugee Services of Texas’ (RST) ESL classes.

Support and Empower

Support and Empower

The holiday season is a time of giving. As we gather around with our friends and family we reflect on our own blessings, and feel compelled by gratitude to give back.

RST works hard everyday to serve clients and empower them to thrive in their new Texas homes. This holiday season, you can join RST in serving refugees and other displaced people. We need your support to continue doing the work we love, so we can better serve our truly remarkable clients. There are many ways to give the gift of hope to give this holiday season all of which will go toward improving and stabilizing the lives of our clients. 

Statement from Aaron Rippenkroeger, President & CEO, Refugee Services of Texas on the 2018 Presidential Determination

The announcement by the White House to cap the number of refugee arrivals at 45,000 for the 2018 fiscal year represents the lowest admissions figure for the United States in decades and puts the lives of tens of thousands of people needlessly at risk.  This shameful decision is not based in fact and will also harm America and the international community.  

St. Barnabas Welcomes New Neighbors!

St. Barnabas Welcomes New Neighbors!

This summer, St. Barnabas Presbyterian Church decided to take a creative approach in engaging the world’s refugee crisis and welcoming new neighbors. Associate Pastor Katy Rigler recalls seeing stories about the refugee crisis in the news, and knew that her Fellowship needed to respond. “It felt like something we should address from a point of faith. If we believe in welcoming others, we should act on that belief and get involved.” said Pastor Rigler.

Meet our Neighbor: FlyKids Yoga

Meet our Neighbor: FlyKids Yoga

North Texas Giving Day brings nonprofits and their neighbors together for 16 hours of fundraising. Refugee Services of Texas is participating in this day by bringing its neighbors together in a celebration of all the ways they welcome. One way we help welcome our new neighbors is through community activities such as the yoga classes Fly Kids Yoga holds for RST Dallas clients!

Celebrating Neighbors: Niusha and Akbar

Celebrating Neighbors: Niusha and Akbar

At Refugee Services of Texas, we are dedicated to welcoming refugees, asylees and other displaced peoples. We are so proud to be able to welcome these new North Texas neighbors. We believe new neighbors are a cause for celebration. One way we like to celebrate new neighbors is through sharing culture, stories and art. Join our welcoming celebration by making a donation to Refugee Services of Texas on September 14 for North Texas Giving Day. As part of the celebration, we are sharing the stories of our neighbors.

One story that we are excited to tell is the story of two artists from Tehran. Read their story below.

Growing Together: RST Clients, Volunteers and Staff Tend to a Community Garden

Growing Together: RST Clients, Volunteers and Staff Tend to a Community Garden

Edna helps nine-year-old Ashkhan* install the tomato plant cage; seven-year-old Adiba looks on as her brother presses firmly onto the tomato cage as Edna secures it to the ground outside the children’s new home.  They are among several RST clients, staff and volunteers that have gathered on a drizzly Saturday morning to ensure that a recent refugee community garden set within north Austin is maintained with care. 

Statement from RST CEO Aaron Rippenkroeger Regarding the Executive Order

We are deeply disappointed by the Executive Order issued today by the Trump administration banning travel to the U.S. for individuals from six countries, instituting a complete stop in refugee arrivals for the next four months, and renewing a commitment to reduce refugee arrivals to the U.S. to 50,000 people.

The consistent and inappropriate conflation between refugees and terrorism is unfounded and unconscionable and represents a dark moment in the history of the United States. Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution to find a new home for their families in peace and safety.