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World Refugee Day will be a little bit different this year as it will be celebrated virtually vs. in person due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.  We spoke with Emily Willis of Catholic Charities of Louisville about this week long celebration and the many events planned for June 15th-June 20th.

WFPK: Hi Emily. What is your involvement with Catholic Charities of Louisville and World Refugee Day?
Emily Willis: I am the Events & In-Kind Coordinator for Catholic Charities of Louisville. Essentially, I seek out community partnerships for donations for our programs, while also planning and creating events for Catholic Charities throughout the year. With the help of the World Refugee Day committee, we’ve planned out our week long virtual celebration! We’re very excited to continue our efforts for World Refugee Day this year.

How does Catholic Charities of Louisville plan to celebrate in this time of social distancing?
Although we are sad our usual in person celebration is canceled, an event that typically hosts 400 guests, we are excited to try out our virtual plan from June 15th – June 20th. We plan to share performances, international recipes you can make at home, informative posts about the Refugee Act of 1980, and we’re most excited to share our “10 Leaders of Louisville”. Our list of 10 will feature Archbishop Kurtz, Mayor Greg Fischer, Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, Louisville City FC, and more!

Besides posting interviews with prominent guests, will there be music or dance involved?
Yes! We’ll have several different forms of art – dance, poetry, photography and more. We can’t wait to show off the talent we have in our community.

How can people participate in the celebration? What can we do to help Refugees in our community?
Since our main platform will be social media based, we’d love to have people “like” and share our videos and posts online to widen our reach. We’re also hoping local news stations will pick up some of our videos, too! You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

There are multiple ways of helping our refugee and immigrant clients. As a nonprofit, funds are most important to keep our programs thriving, but we are always in need of general donations. Back to school items are needed right now, too! For anyone who wants to be more involved, we are looking for mentors to be positive role models for our younger clients. On a larger scale, we are seeking local businesses and organizations who are hiring. Our employment team connects our clients to job opportunities and helps them prepare for the job. Lastly, we love working with local churches who want to host drives for our clients throughout the year.

COVID-19 has altered our usual way of operating our programs, but you can always stay up to date by visiting our website.

Laura is the WFPK Assistant Program Director and afternoon host.