MRS launched POWR in the midst of the great recession, seeking to strengthen the ability of local churches to recruit and utilize volunteers to mentor and provide other needed support to newly-arrived refugees. With job growth low and unemployment high as a result of recession, the program placed a special focus on building parish partnerships that could help refugees build their social capital and networks for finding jobs.

Small seed grants continue to be provided to local parishes through the program for the development of volunteer-led efforts to meet a range of resettlement needs, including transportation, English language learning, employment mentoring and more generally navigating U.S. systems.              

The initiative has spurned the development of innovative projects and social enterprises. With POWR support, Catholic Charities of Louisville, for example, utilized funds to create an in-house woodworking shop, where it can manufacture furniture items at low cost and high quality. To pick another example of this program’s empowering impact, Catholic Charities of Jacksonville produced a documentary film to intensify its volunteer recruitment efforts. Testimonials underscore the social impact of volunteerism on resettlement. “We are thrilled with POWR’s positive contributions,” reports one program manager. “It has allowed us to be more visible, to recruit more volunteers and provide better services to refugees in need.”

Related Video


Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees (POWR) Program Daniel Sturm [email protected]
Jacksonville, FL


For Fiscal Years 2010-2016:

  • Number of Volunteers Recruited: 14,500

  • Number of parishes and other groups (faith-based, schools, college & nonprofit groups) recruited for resettlement work: 1,065

  • Average volunteer contribution (in hours): 21

  • Cash- and In-Kind (in million $): 5.9

  • USCCB/MRS Expense (in million $): 1.5