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Agency - Bridge Refugee Services, Inc. Education


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Bridge Refugee Services, Inc.
Last updated on December 13, 2013

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Bridge is an ecumenical, non-profit agency that resettles refugees in East Tennessee. Our offices are in Knoxville and Chattanooga, where we recruit and train refugee co-sponsorship groups and individual volunteers. With federal, state, and faith-based assistance, we provide case management services for every refugee family. Those services include employment, public school enrollment, English learning, Social Security, vaccinations and physical exams, food stamps, and health insurance.

Description:
Bridge is the refugee resettlement agency for East Tennessee. Over the last 27 years, we have resettled more than 1,500 families from Bosnia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Poland, Romania, Sudan, Ukraine, Vietnam, and many other countries.

All refugees are victims of persecution (for their religion, politics, or ethnicity) who have been forced to flee their home countries. They enter a second country seeking safe haven, but they often live in conditions that are unsafe and unsanitary. Sometimes, the governments of these second countries do not permit refugees to stay indefinitely. When this happens, a third country (such as the U.S.) might accept the refugee for resettlement. In recent years, the U.S. has resettled between 50,000 and 80,000 refugees annually. Refugees are legal residents. Refugee adults are permitted to work and children must attend school.

History:
In the early 1980s, Barbara Mozingo moved to Oak Ridge, TN. She had learned of the problems faced by refugees from the early example of her parents who, in the 1940s, were assisting Norwegian newcomers to their Minnesota community. Later, in Denver, Barbara became involved by devoting time to refugees through her church. When she arrived in Oak Ridge, there were few refugee services available, and certainly no presence of Church World Service (CWS) or Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM). She quickly recognized that her experience would be useful.

She contacted local churches for assistance and met Sue Casaro-Hofer. Together, Sue and Barbara founded what is now Bridge. They chose the name Bridge because they wanted the agency to be a bridge between the agency, volunteers, Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, and anyone else who wanted to join their efforts to resettle refugees in East Tennessee.

The first "office" was located in a room donated by Erin Presbyterian Church, and many of the first refugee cases involved reuniting Vietnamese and Polish families.

Since then, Bridge has expanded its name to Bridge Refugee Services, Inc. Refugees have been welcomed to the Knoxville, Bristol, and Chattanooga areas from more than a dozen countries.

Contact people:
 Katie O'Neal, Volunteer Coordinator, (email)
Lesli Davis, (phone), (email)

Address:
 7035 Middlebrook Pike, Suite A
Knoxville, TN 37909
(See a map)

Web Site: http://www.bridgerefugees.org
Last updated on December 13, 2013


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