Refugee Services Kicks Off Refugee Team Mentoring Program (Anneke Valk, Refugee Services)

Posted 06/19/2018

Newly arrived refugees often face a myriad of confusing challenges as they begin their new lives here in Middle Tennessee. Catholic Charities Refugee Services is kicking off a new mentoring program that will match a volunteer team of 4-6 members with a newly-arrived family.

"Over a period of at least 6 months, family mentor teams will work with refugee families to develop their understanding of American culture, tech them the skills necessary to succeed here, and form trusting relationships," explained Anneke Valk, Volunteer Coordinator for Refugee Services.

"The partnership provides meaningful support, above and beyond what we're able to provide as a refugee resettlement agency. Instead of simply giving them everything that they need, the mentor furnishes them with the skill set necessary to help them accomplish things for themselves," she added.

Agency staff will continue to focus on core services while the family mentor teams supplement their efforts by showing the new arrivals their new city, sharing their interests with their mentee family, and demonstrating to them that Nashville, indeed, is a welcoming place for refugees.

"Effective mentors need to have an open mind and a nonjudgmental attitude towards the mentees in order to build a strong relationship," Valk continued.

"As a family mentor, you will want to create a welcoming, respectful environment in which refugees feel that they can talk openly with you about their concerns, beliefs, and opinions. The relationship built between the mentor and the mentee is important because it offers invaluable friendship and the support refugees need as newcomers to America."

For more information about the Refugee Family Mentor Team program, call 615-259-3567 or e-mail

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