Church World Service was born in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II. Seventeen denominations came together to form an agency "to do in partnership what none of us could hope to do as well alone." The mission: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, comfort the aged, shelter the homeless. Over time, CWS expanded to become a global organization, with corporate offices in Indiana and New York as well as local offices all over the US and across multiple continents.
In 1976, in order to provide greater support to refugees and their sponsors in the USA, CWS established refugee resettlement offices in various parts of the U.S. They played a pivotal role in supporting the growing number of refugees from Southeast Asia who were resettled to the United States in the years after the Vietnam War. While the number of offices ebbs and flows with refugee admissions, they continue to form the foundation for CWS work in resettling refugees in the US. Recently, in 2021, CWS expanded its reach to unaccompanied immigrant children. CWS is a new provider of home studies and post release services to this population as they come into federal care, identify caregivers in the community, and go to live with those caregivers across the United States. CWS stands ready to provide case management services to unaccompanied children and their families wherever they may live through a network of sites across the country, and looks forward to the opportunity to partner with Hearts You Hold in ensuring that the needs and wishes of families are honored as they acclimate to life in a new country.
Working with unaccompanied children offers both challenges and opportunities. Due to unresolved legal status as well as language and other barriers, children and their families face difficulty in accessing services and securing resources that many of us take for granted. Despite this, the resilience of this population is inspiring. Our clients come from cultures that value family above all else, and this is carried out over and over as families take in their young relatives after months or years of separation despite their own hardships and difficulties. Playing a role in reuniting families and ensuring access to supports to achieve long-term permanency for children keeps us motivated, humbled, and grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside families committed to forging new lives together.