Catholic Charities talks to full house

Organization discusses its resettlement program

Sentinel photo by LUCAS LENZE
Gary Gill tries to calm a particularly rowdy crowd with (left to right) Sandy Dunmire, Annette Martin, and Amin Habeeb onlooking.

LEWISTOWN–Annette Martin and Amin Habeeb from Catholic Charities spoke to a packed house at the St. Marks Episcopal Church Thursday night in Lewistown.

Martin, with 25 years of expierence across several departments with Catholic Charities, greeted the crowd. Habeeb opened up with a PowerPoint presentation about what it means to be a refugee and the resettlemet program itself. When a person is forced from their home country, seeking a fresh and safe start for themselves or their family and can no longer safely return, they are considered a refugee.

The resettlement program takes in people from all over the world as part of the charity’s goal to help those in need of refuge from a bad situation. There are four criterea the presentation outlined for being considered a refugee. First is leaving their home country and registering as a refugee. Next, they cannot desire to return to their home county. Third, they must pass an extensive security background check and clear a health screening process. Last, a candidate must arrive in their new home county and establish a life for themselves.

Catholic Charities holds a refugee day for the people they have integrated into the commuinty. People come together for a fun day and company at a local park.

Concerning the recent talk of bringing refugees to Mifflin County, the charity said there is currently no plan to bring any to the Mifflin County area.

The public wa given time to speak and ask questions about the program. One community member expressed concern considering the poverty in the area: “There are not enough means for these refugees to be introduced here.”

Resident Keith Mernin rebuked this claim, adding “Just because it’s a poor area, it doesn’t mean you can’t extend help to people.”

Though the atmosphere grew heated at times, members of the community, whether in favor or against the idea of bringing refugees to the area, came together at meeting’s end and spoke as if there was no divide at all.

The church wanted to thank the Catholic Charaties group for their presentation.