Regarding news coverage of the leadership of former Gov. Robert Ray, the July 13 Gazette headline read “He saw people for people.” Indeed he did, but Ray was thoughtful and calculated about how to accomplish humanitarian efforts to resettle refugees from Southeast Asia. The success of this effort, which I have not read or seen mentioned in any news account, was the method. Refugees did not flood across the borders and relocate in Iowa at random.
In Cedar Rapids, numbers of churches “adopted” families. Local residents mentored them and helped the Vietnamese acclimate.
In All Saints Parish, we adopted a three-generation family of 11. A parishioner secured a home for them near our church, teams of volunteers drove them to English language classes at Kirkwood Community College, and on errands. We went to appointments with them to facilitate communication. An All Saints physician cared for family members without pay. We helped them get jobs. That Vietnamese family spent its first Thanksgiving in Cedar Rapids in the home of a parishioner. They were members of All Saints and, in fact, the eldest member of the family died recently, at age 100, and her funeral was at All Saints.
Today, through St. Vincent de Paul Society, I occasionally work with refugees or people who immigrate here legally. “Borders” can remain “borders” if the citizenry gives immigrants and refugees the purposeful and sustained friendship and support our community extended to the Vietnamese.