On Saturday, June 18, 2016, the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma participated in World Refugee Day at Memorial Park in Oklahoma City. World Refugee Day acknowledges the resilience and courage of refugees throughout the world. This year’s event was titled “Many Cultures, One Community.” The American Red Cross Regional International Service Program Coordinator, Bart Frank, described the event as “a true collaboration of non-profit organizations in our community that come together each year to plan and celebrate the lives of refugees in our area.” “The Red Cross and The Spero Project assist Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in picking the site, organizing entertainment, and providing supplies and volunteer support. Ten fantastic Red Cross volunteers assisted at the event today, passing out water, discussing disaster situations, and running our famous spinning wheel with prizes for young children who answered questions on disaster-related topics,” said Frank.
Julie Lewis, refugee resettlement director at Catholic Charities, presented Congressman Steve Russell of the 5th District of Oklahoma with the 2016 World Refugee Day award from the Oklahoma City Refugee Coalition for his service and support to immigrants in our state.
This year’s events included a soccer tournament led by Oklahoma City’s professional soccer team, Rayo OKC. Despite the heat, soccer matches were enjoyed by teenagers and young adults while families cheered from the sidelines. Other activities included a tennis clinic for youths, gift raffles, handouts of donated books, and rhythmic background music from an international group of drummers. In addition to community outreach events such as World Refugee Day, the American Red Cross’ International Services Program assists families in locating missing relatives across borders as a result of war, civil unrest, migration, and natural disasters. The Program also works with the International Committee of the Red Cross and helps raise funds for measles and rubella immunizations globally.