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Catholic Charities assists refugees and immigrants that are legally in the United States. Our Refugee Resettlement program supports refugees who flee their country of origin, often running from violence, war and persecution, to save their lives. They are granted refugee status by the United Nations due to a well-founded case of persecution and cleared for entrance to America by our Department of Homeland Security.

Our Immigration Legal Services team helps reunite those in the U.S. legally with minor children and spouses who remain in their country of origin. Many of those we assist are refugees — those granted refugee status by the United Nations and invited here by the U.S. Federal Government — to reunite with their spouses and minor children. We also help U.S. citizens and those with legal residency secure residency for their spouses and/or children.

Thursday, 22 February 2024

Foster Mom Has Found Purpose in Opening Her Home to Unaccompanied Minors

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Georgina Stewart is the type of mother any child would be proud to have. As she talks to her case manager, she expresses her excitement about taking her foster teens shopping to buy clothes for the holiday parties they’ll be attending with her.

For 13 years, Georgina has been a hands-on foster mom who truly enjoys fostering teen girls through Catholic Charities’ Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program. The URM program licenses and trains foster homes to care for foreign-born children who are in the U.S. without a legal guardian. It also assists with legal aid, healthcare, counseling and case management to help create a supportive environment for unaccompanied minors and their foster families.

Georgina is a native of Mexico and worked as a flight attendant for Air Mexico for many years. She has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years and recently retired from working in the Washington School District.

Taking on a New Type of Motherly Role

Her journey as a foster mom began when her biological daughter was 19 years old. Georgina loved being a mom and decided she wanted to continue to provide love and care to youth who needed it. “I couldn’t have more than one child, so this is my way of taking care of kids and being a mother figure to kids who are not mine biologically,” she said.

She connected with and found a passion in the URM program. Her Hispanic heritage helps her understand and relate to girls in the program who are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and other Latin American countries. Georgina’s ability to speak Spanish is comforting to many of the girls, who often arrive knowing little English.

Creating a Sense of Normalcy for Unaccompanied Minors

She helps them feel more at home by cooking their native dishes, such as enchiladas, chilaquiles and tamales. The girls usually make the tortillas, which is another way for Georgina to bond with them and listen to their joys and struggles as they navigate a new life in the U.S.

When her girls need extra support at school, Georgina advocates for their best interests. She makes sure to communicate with their teachers about tutoring or whatever assistance they may need. She wants to see them succeed in whatever they choose to do in the future.

“I can’t imagine just living by myself; it would be very quiet and lonely. They keep me company and keep me occupied,” said Georgina.

Be Part of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

If Georgina’s story inspired you, we are always looking for loving foster parents to work with our URM program. You can read more about the program to see if you may be a good fit.

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Ruthanne Hopkins

Ruthanne Hopkins has worked with Catholic Charities' Unaccompanied Minor Foster Care program for two years. She has lived overseas and enjoys the richness of different cultures. She has 20 years of experience working with refugees.