Church World Service’s annual Benefit4Change took place on October 5th, inspiring hope in what we all know is an uncertain and dangerous climate for refugees and immigrants. From honorees to attendees, we shared words of strength and perseverance through advocacy and highlighted the important work CWS and partners are championing in response to the challenges that lie ahead.
One of CWS’ key partners, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was represented through Larry Yungk, Senior Resettlement Officer at UNHCR Washington. Mr. Yungk emphasized that our work in resettlement is driven by hope for vulnerable groups and for our identity as a nation centered on justice: “Resettlement is a solution to one percent [of the total refugee population] but it gives hope to thousands and thousands of others. It supports countries like Lebanon, where one out of every four people in the country is a refugee. …We’re going to do it because it’s the right thing.”
Not only is resettlement the right thing, but we were reminded that it is also an incredibly vibrant part of our own country’s story – and we have been changed for the better because of it. Sheila McGeehan Mastropietro, Office Director of CWS Lancaster (PA), shared on this point later in the evening, saying “We are all immigrants, and the hard work and initiative of immigrants built this country and are really what make it great.”
As the Benefit4Change’s host location, New York City itself is emblematic of this rich heritage. Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced the city’s support of CWS’ work through the following letter, which was read on his behalf during the event.
“I am proud to lead a city that champions tolerance, understanding, and equality for all and recognizes just how central our tremendous diversity is to our success. These values, which have made us who we are both as New Yorkers and as Americans, are now being threatened. It is essential that we defend the rights and liberty of our immigrant communities and of all our diverse residents. Our pledge to remain a place where everyone can feel safe sends a clear message: we will not compromise who we are as New Yorkers and we will continue to do everything we can to defend all people…I applaud all those associated with CWS for their unwavering dedication to those in need and commitment to paving a path for a brighter, more equitable tomorrow…we look forward to continuing to build this new normal with you all, and please know that the city of New York is your partner in this work.”
To parallel Mayor de Blasio’s words, CWS is so proud to work alongside individuals, partners and cities who champion core human values. The Benefit4Change provided the time to pause in the midst of a whirlwind year as we recognized the life-changing outcomes that occur when we exemplify those values. Unabashedly, we renew our longstanding commitment to facilitate that change.
2017 Benefit4Change Honorees:
Larry Yungk | Senior Resettlement Officer at UNHCR Washington
Sheila McGeehan Mastropietro | CWS Lancaster PA Office Director
Rutgers Presbyterian Church Refugee Task Force | New York City, NY
Learn more about the 2017’s Honorees here.