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U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants 2021 Welcoming Iowa Benefit

By USCRI October 21, 2021

USCRI Des Moines hosted its third annual Welcoming Iowa benefit Thursday, October 14th, 2021, at the Foundry Distilling Company in Historic Valley Junction.

As the largest refugee resettlement agency in Iowa, USCRI Des Moines expects to welcome 340 refugees and 125 Afghan evacuees over the coming year, helping new Iowans establish homes and livelihoods as well as access health care, education, legal support, and other vital community resources.

USCRI Des Moines Field Office Director Kerri True-Funk kicked off the event by giving a review of the agency’s accomplishments over the past year and thanking the event’s generous sponsors.

Lanon Baccam, a military veteran and son of Taidam refugees from Laos, gave the keynote address emphasizing our duty to welcome those who made great sacrifices to stand alongside our troops in Afghanistan.

We also heard updates on the refugee situation globally from USCRI VP of Strategic Development Kevin Sturtevant, and Kenia Calderon Ceron, VP/Bilingual Business Development Director for GreenState Credit Union and a member of USCRI Des Moines’ Advisory Committee.

Attendees experienced what hospitality looks like in different cultures, enjoying live musical performances by Mary Mawi and Heritier Impaneza and food from three local refugee-owned restaurants – Kathmandu Restaurant, Palmyra Restaurant, and Phở All Seasons.

Iowans raised over $50,000 for the event to support Afghan and refugee arrivals to Des Moines over the coming year. These unrestricted funds are crucial as the agency works to rapidly rebuild infrastructure dismantled under the previous administration.

For those unable to attend this year’s event you can still donate online by clicking here.


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