Run for Refugees 2023: New Haven Community Unites to Support Refugees and Immigrants

February 28, 2023

It began with a moment of silence to honor the people of Türkiye and Syria who lost their lives in the earthquakes that claimed 25,000 lives. On February 12th, Super Bowl Sunday, the temperature was 35 degrees with a cloudy sky, and the streets of New Haven, Connecticut were filled with individuals wearing blue shirts that read Run for Refugees 2023. By 10 am, 3,000 runners, joggers, and walkers gathered at Wilbur Cross High School to participate in the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services’ biggest annual fundraiser to support refugees and immigrants. IRIS is a resettlement office and partner of Church World Service in New Haven, Connecticut.

The event brought together people who care about refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, with even Senator Richard Blumenthal appearing in the crowd. However, what made the event even more special was the diversity of the runners, with children running alongside their parents, several flags representing majority immigrant communities, and Church World Service being well represented with two runners, including the senior director of US programs, Claudia Connor.

As someone who regularly participates in competitive runs, having run three half marathons and one full marathon, I am familiar with the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line and receiving a medal. However, the Run for Refugees event was much more than just a run. It provided a way to connect with a new community, while also bringing me closer to a community that I share so much in common with.

As the communications specialist at Church World Service, being a part of this event meant everything to me. It was an opportunity to be with a community of sponsors, clients, leaders, resettlement agencies, and community members. Every step I took during the run served to reinforce our support for refugees worldwide, while also strengthening our friendship with our new neighbors. This event only further solidified our commitment to servicing refugees, people seeking asylum, and immigrants in the US.

Abdi Iftin is the Communications Specialist, Welcoming Communities at CWS.