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Resettled family breaks ground on new Habitat for Humanity home

To the applause of Fulton community leaders, neighbors, and Catholic Charities staff the Safi family – newcomers resettled in mid-Missouri last spring – broke ground on their nine-bedroom home to be built by River City Habitat for Humanity on March 30, 2020.

While the Jefferson City Habitat for Humanity affiliate is typically only allowed to pursue projects within Cole County, local community member and leader, Bob Hansen, told the council about the Safi family’s journey to the U.S. and their need for affordable and safe housing for their large family.

Then, as the Habitat for Humanity’s Executive Director Susan Cook-Williams put it, “If you know Bob, it’s hard to say ‘no’ to Bob!”

Earlier that month Mr. Hansen received the highest Rotary International honor, the Service Above Self Award from Rotary International’s Board of Directors. Among key leadership roles within the Fulton Rotary Club, Central Missouri Community Action Fulton State Hospital, and others, Mr. Hansen has also served as a community co-sponsor alongside Catholic Charities since January of 2022.

Community Co-Sponsors are matched with newly arriving families welcomed by Catholic Charities refugee services to journey alongside them as they navigate rebuilding their lives in new communities. Co-Sponsors accompany newcomers throughout each facet of resettlement, including community orientation, education, healthcare, transportation, job readiness, cultural orientation, and more.

From learning new languages, to shopping for new shoes for their children, to enrolling in local schools and accessing health care – the needs of newcomers are many, and the Co-Sponsors rise to the occasion. Now, nearly 18 months after resettlement, many Co-Sponsors speak of the transition from “client” to “friend.” And as these life-long friendships blossom, the generational work of love each new individual and family bears fruit.

As children well throughout the crowd laughing and speaking in Pashto and English Sheen Gul Safi expressed his gratitude to those gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony with the help of his Catholic Charities refugee case manager and friend, Sardar Sherzad.

“I am so very, very thankful for the opportunity and the celebration of this project Mr. Safi said, we look forward to our future in this community.”

While finding sustainable housing is a challenge faced by many local resettlement agencies across the U.S., finding housing for families with several children adds another layer of complexity. The Habitat for Humanity home plan for the Safi family includes nine bedrooms, which is a welcome relief to this family of 13.

Lacy Stroessner, Director of Catholic Charities refugee services also addressed the crowd remarking, “We are so, so excited for this family and we’re so grateful for the community partnerships that made this happen. It’s really a dream come true.”

Just minutes before Sheen Gul, former mayor of Fulton Lowe Cannell, and Habitat for Humanity leadership broke ground with the first shovels full of soil Ms. Cook-Williams closed the speaking portion of the ceremony with a few final words.

“All right, we’re very excited about this project – and I think it’s going to be great,” Ms. Cook-Williams said, “We’re very excited to be in Fulton and having everybody here jump in and help us as well. But we couldn’t be more excited about the house, but rather the home that it’s going to be for the Safi family.”

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