Each year our December issue includes our Nonprofit Giving Guide, which has stories about nonprofit organizations and supporting businesses that are working to make our community better. This year I was particularly moved by one story--a look at the Utah Refugee Center and the vulnerable people it serves.
As a monthly print publication, sometimes news and events overtake our slow production timeline. We planned the content for our December issue in September, with writers wrapping up their stories in October. Then the terror attacks happened in Paris, unleashing a deep resistance in the United States to bringing refugees from Syria into the country. One by one, governors began saying they'd refuse to let Syrian refugees into their states. In fact, every single Republican governor said they did not want these refugees--except our own Gov. Gary Herbert.
Instead, Herbert issued a statement calling for federal agencies to re-evaluate and strengthen their security check processes for refugees but, notably, not refusing to accept such refugees. "Utahns are well known for our compassion for those who are fleeing the violence in their homeland, and we will work to do all we can to ease their suffering without compromising public safety," said Herbert in the statement.
And, remarkably, Herbert has not faced political backlash within Utah for this stance. I think that's because Utahns truly are compassionate and welcoming to refugees. Over the years, the state has sheltered refugees from Burundi, Myanmar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and other regions plagued with violence.
Roughly 1,200 refugees land in Utah each year, and since 1988, at least 45,000 refugees have settled in the state. Organizations like the Utah Refugee Center, Catholic Community Services, the International Refugee Committee, the First Unitarian Church and the Department of Workforce Services help these refugees settle into their new homes and find jobs.
In fact, there's a lot businesses can do to help refugees, from providing supplies and cash donations to offering occupational training and employment opportunities. In our annual Nonprofit Roundtable, which was in our August issue, Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church noted, "One of the big issues with refugees is that a very high proportion were professionals in the country from which they are fleeing. The door of opportunity is simply slammed to these professionals. I would hope that the business community might consider working with the First Unitarian Church in terms of providing work, business opportunities, for many of these highly skilled people. They come here and really take the most menial jobs imaginable because the doors are closed to them."
You can read more about refugees in Utah--and ways to help--beginning on page 105. Our Nonprofit Giving Guide also includes stories about nonprofits working to protect Utah's environment and companies finding ways to engage their employees in giving. I hope this guide will inspire you in this season of giving and throughout the year.
From the Editor
Heather Dawn Stewart