New Refugee Hope Center Offers Much in the Way of Welcoming
In February 2015, BHITC opened The Hope Center, its first official satellite hub to serve refugees, in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. The reason for doing so was simple, says BHITC’s Eileen Wilson, Director of Refugee Resettlement Services. “We want to provide an ‘open door’ – a welcoming place where refugees and immigrants feel comfortable stopping in on their own to receive assistance.”
The notion of creating a “second home” for newcomers that invites them to drop-in for assistance or simply as a means of connecting with others has been a dream years in the making, says Wilson. “Rather than being a place solely for operating programs, The Hope Center will give refugees and immigrants a place they can belong.”
It also represents an important new partnership between BHITC, Gateway West Church, which will host The Center on its new campus, and the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) Central District, which will provide staff and volunteer support.
“Gateway West Church is excited about the partnership with The Hope Center, not only because we share its building space, but also for the opportunity it brings to develop relationships with the people living in our community with such unique backgrounds and worldviews,’ says Dan Ghramm, lead pastor of Gateway West Church. “We are praying God will use this ministry to share the love of Jesus in a special way for God’s glory,” he adds.
Todd Sovine, Director of Church Planting for the CMA Central District says, “Today, the Lord is opening new doors of opportunity to share His love by bringing the world to our region. As a result of our partnership with The Hope Center, we anticipate lives, communities and cultures will be transformed by Jesus.”
Open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 6 pm, The Hope Center offers citizenship preparation, English classes and practice, Bureau of Immigration Appeal services and referrals, as well as assistance with school registration, mail inquiries, tutoring and practical life questions. However, the heart of The Hope Center is the Café, which feature a newly painted world map mural and welcomes visitors to enjoy coffee and conversation.
BHITC’s other partners in ministry are already planning to make use of The Hope Center, as well. Asian Services in Action, Inc., an advocacy organization for the Asian community, and US Together, one of Cleveland’s three refugee resettlement agencies, will offer classes and volunteers. Economic Community Development Institute, a nonprofit micro-lending and business training organization, will visit The Hope Center regularly to offer free consulting and assistance to visitors who have ideas for starting small businesses.
Volunteers are needed for the ongoing success of The Hope Center, too! Contact BHITC at 216.281.4673 to learn more about how you can get involved. Opportunities include driving refugees to and from the center, conversational style English practice, citizenship class teachers, café volunteers, receptionists, craft instructors, special events planners, childcare workers and tutors for children.