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2014-09-12 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 12, 2014  RSS feed
Social Services

Text: T T T

Gulf Coast expands Refugee Services

Gulf Coast’s Refugee Services Department opened a shelter in June of this year to help reunite children with their families here in the United States.

The program works with boys under the age of 18, primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Pervasive gang violence, transnational organized crime, lack of educational and economic opportunities and the desire to be reunited with their families, already in the United States, are the main reasons that children make the dangerous and long journey to the U.S. The number of children coming across on their own has dramatically increased in the last 2 years with a huge spike this year. The number of children that have crossed the border has increased from 28,000 in 2013 to 57,500 through June of this year – or a 106% increase.

Gulf Coast’s shelter provides a nurturing and safe environment for the boys where a warm and clean bed, educational instruction, and mental health counseling are all provided during their length of stay. All the boys are medically screened before coming to our shelter, receive a health assessment upon arrival and see a doctor for a full physical within 48 hours. In order to adjust their immigration status, they are required to appear before a judge. Gulf Coast encourages the boys and their families to continue that process after they are reunited and no longer in our care. The boys have a thirst for learning, doing puzzles, playing soccer on the property and learning English.

This program is part of the agency’s larger Refugee Services department that has been serving refugees since the 1980’s when large numbers of Jewish families fleeing persecution in the Former Soviet Union were resettled to the United States. Since then, the agency has helped more than 5000 refugees from 27 countries, become thriving members of their new Florida communities.

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