The New Year is a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.   At World Relief, our past includes a long history of meeting humanitarian needs and serving the world’s most vulnerable. Around the globe, World Relief has faithfully served people affected by war, poverty and disaster.

This year, World Relief will honor the past and look towards the future in celebration of 35 years of refugee resettlement services in California, Georgia, Illinois and Washington--- and 70 years since World Relief was founded!  As one of the original areas where refugee resettlement began in the U.S., we are doubly excited---celebrating 35 years of resettlement in DuPage and 15 years of service in Aurora!

“It is a testimony of God’s faithfulness and of the vision of these communities that World Relief has grown here and communities have been open and welcoming to refugees and immigrants,” said, Emily Gray, WRDA Executive Director.

World Relief has selected the image of a tree as the symbol for the anniversary year because of its similarity to the experience of immigrants and the World Relief local ministry.  Immigrants have all been separated from their original roots and seek roots in a new place.  And through the support of churches and volunteers, the roots grow deeper and stronger over time.    Eventually, the immigrant becomes firmly planted—learning English, gaining new job skills and investing in the growth of their community.  While some hardships are experienced along the way, similar to a sturdy tree, the immigrant is resilient and their limbs grow strong---producing much fruit.

Throughout 2014, we will observe the anniversary each month here in the newsletter with an article on our history and announcements of special anniversary opportunities.  In addition, we will weave the celebration into our regular yearly events such as Refugee & Immigrant Sunday and our annual Benefit Dinner; however, our big celebration will take place in conjunction with our annual World Refugee Day Picnics. We ask that you reserve the weekend of June 20 for WRDA celebrations, which will bring together both former and current immigrant clients, volunteers, community partners and employees.

In 1979, the founders of World Relief’s ministry among refugees, Grady and Evelyn Mangham, cast a vision of hope.  And by partnering with those willing to stand and welcome the stranger---many lives have been transformed over the years.  While the mission of World Relief has evolved, it has never wavered from the goal of empowering the local Church to serve the most vulnerable, and to see refugees, immigrants and members of their communities become fully-functioning, integrated participants in society.

Today, WRDA is a grounded organization with many dedicated volunteers, donors and community and church partners.  Over the coming year, together we will celebrate God’s faithfulness and all of the new beginnings that have been planted by WRDA and your service to the foreign-born.