When Gesseca Hooeer of Ecuador first immigrated to the United States, she searched for resources around her to help her learn English. Finding the Church’s Mesa Welcome Center in Arizona was a miracle, she said.
“This was the last option — and my best option, my best decision,” she told Newsroom.
The Mesa center is one of more than a dozen centers throughout seven states and one Canadian province operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help immigrants and refugees integrate into their new, foreign communities.
Among other services, Latter-day Saint volunteers help immigrants and refugees find access to community legal services, improve their English, strengthen emotional resilience, progress on the path to citizenship and better understand American culture so that they can obtain better jobs and live better lives.
Legal services are provided in partnership with local university law schools. All services are free.
“We connect our patrons with the resources in the community that they may need, whatever that resource might be,” said Lorrie Curriden, who volunteers at the Las Vegas Welcome Center with her husband, Dan Curriden. “It’s wonderful to offer a full slate of services based on what people need when they come through the door. Our goal is to help them determine their areas of greatest need and figure out a way we can help them.”
Elder Broc Hiatt, an Area Seventy, says the work of the centers transcends politics and recognizes the core identity of another person as a child of God.
“It doesn’t matter how they got here,” Elder Hiatt said. “Our concern is that they are children of Heavenly Father, and they need help. We can provide it, and we’ve covenanted to provide it. We are simply here to love Heavenly Father’s children and provide the help to them that He would provide if He was here.”
Lorrie Curriden said their service is about following the example of Jesus Christ. “The Savior went about doing good,” she said. “He taught the scriptures, but He also fed people, and He also healed people. He blessed their lives temporally as well as spiritually. That really feels like our mission to do His work and follow the Spirit and the love of people in His name.”
Read more about how welcome centers are blessing the lives of individuals here.