City of Refuge receives donation for PTSD, trauma services

5 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, October 04 2018 Oct 4, 2018 Thursday, October 04, 2018 12:44:00 PM CDT October 04, 2018 in News
By: McKenna Alexander, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - City of Refuge, a local organization which helps refugees in mid-Missouri, received a large donation Thursday to help develop counseling services for those living with PTSD and trauma.

The donation of more than $18,000 to City of Refuge Columbia came from Veterans United Foundation, the charitable arm of Veterans United Home Loans.

According to City of Refuge, an average of 200 new refugees come to Columbia each year. 

"There's a passion to develop a sense of belonging in people who feel displaced, who feel like they don't have a home," City of Refuge Executive Director Garrett Pearson said. 

The non-profit provides basic needs, counseling and professional development services for refugees in mid-Missouri. According to numbers from City of Refuge, mid-Missouri has more than 8 thousand refugees and immigrants. Pearson said he's seen in the refugees he's worked with ongoing effects of the hardships they've gone through.

"Whether that's being separated from family members, having their homes destroyed, just kind of being displaced for years and years before finally finding something here in the United States...it's [trauma] pretty common, and there's so much more we can do [to help]." Pearson said. 

City of Refuge offers free PTSD and trauma counseling to any refugee that requests it. It employs two counselors that specialize in the field. This donation will go towards developing that program further in order to help even more refugees. 

Klo Paw, a refugee of Myanmar, came to America in 2008. He came here with his family, but was fleeing a county of unrest. 

"The country is bad. People, they kept fighting," Paw said.

Paw was in attendance with the Veterans United Foundation for the donation ceremony. He was given a custodial job by Veterans United Home Loans.

"They are very good people, they are very hard workers," Victor Tyson, Lead Custodian at Veterans United, said. 

As far as looking toward the future, City of Refuge is eager to help more refugees with trauma coping.

"From the moment that they land in Columbia, to the moment where they decide, 'You know what, here's what I want to do with my life,' being able to help them with that is just incredible," Pearson said.

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