Community members join to address immigrant and refugee issues

Written by: Aly Badinger

Imagine that you’ve just arrived in a foreign community. The people are different. The food is different. The language is different. Many days you are simply surviving, yet you long to flourish. This is reality for hundreds of families entering Bowling Green and other cities across the country. Thankfully, there is a coalition of citizens, businesses, and nonprofits that are determined to help families with these challenges and many more.

On February 13, 2013, the members of the Community Partnership for Immigrant and Refugee Issues gathered in a large conference room in the Warren County School Board Building. The group is unparalleled in its diversity of representation and overall breadth of interest in the community it assists, serving needs in the areas of health care, education, transportation, career services, and housing.

As the meeting began, energy filled the room while old friends shook hands and talked about children and sports, and new acquaintances asked about the organizations represented. During the meeting the spotlight passed from person to person as they shared about their upcoming events, goals, and concerns. News ranged from the joys of the participation of English as Second Language students at Cumberland Trace Elementary in a father-daughter dance to asking for volunteers for upcoming Hispanic health fair.

Jennifer Bell, the director of the Center for Development Acculturation and Resolution Services (CEDARS), shared what she enjoyed most about the group, “I enjoy the opportunity to hear how the present organizations are involved in efforts to serve our refugee and immigrant populations, especially small organizations and faith-based groups who are working to support federally funded programs.”

If all of these people are already helping families, why does a large meeting help? Bell explained, “This meeting paves a path for collaboration so that the many parts serving Warren County’s immigrants and refugees may contribute to a more complete whole. Also, the group allows service providers and active volunteers to connect names and faces. This recognition furthers dialogue and relations.”


An example of such dialogue and relations was the introduction of the new president of the International Center of Bowling Green and Owensboro, Mr. Albert Mbangfu. His presence brought a round of applause, and many have hope for what he can bring to the table as a new, influential contributor to the immigrant and refugee community.


Overall, partners depart from this group feeling refreshed and connected. With such motivation there is hope that each meeting will contain increasingly more joyful news of better support systems for immigrant and refugee families of Bowling Green and Warren County.

For information about attending a Campus and Community Partnership meeting, please email the ALIVE Center at


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