COLUMBIA - City of Refuge received a $245,000 check from the Veterans United Foundation Friday, which will be used to pay for City of Refuge's home office.
Garrett Pearson, the Executive Director at City of Refuge, said the money will help them establish "permanence" in the Columbia community.
"There's now a place that refugees and immigrants can look to and know that they have a space to belong," Pearson said. "It helps develop some of their identity with this community, and allows this community kind of come together and support one another."
He said that physical space is essential to the refugee community.
"This space is really close centrally in Columbia, and also is close to a lot of the refugee pockets and neighborhoods that live here," Pearson said. "It is a beacon of hope, if you will, to anybody who's just looking for support or services a place to belong or to contribute."
Pearson added that by using the money to pay off the organization's mortgage, it frees up monthly funds to devote to existing and upcoming programs to support refugees.
"We talked to them to help relieve that stress so that we could expand some much needed programs and services and really begin some new initiatives, we have to serve the refugee and immigrant population," Pearson said.
BIG NEWS!!! 🎉Our friends from the @VUFoundation surprised us with an incredible gift of $245,000 to establish our home and pay off our mortgage in its entirety!!This gift means so much to our team and the refugee community of Mid-Missouri. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/gQ4rxSUtAD— City of Refuge (@_cityofrefuge) April 23, 2021
One of the programs City of Refuge hopes to invest more in is their School Navigation Project. The project aims to support students navigate school, since many have been thrown off the track due to online school.
"We've been focusing specifically on helping them navigate school and helping them navigate life and hopefully develop careers here in our community and across the globe," Pearson said.
The program also hires community tutors, who are fellow refugees now in college and can help younger student navigate school.