CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) will host its first annual World Refugee Day celebration on June 20 from 5-8 p.m. in Charleston, W.Va. The event aims to raise awareness and resources for its services to refugees and other legal immigrants. The celebration will include an art exhibit featuring three refugee artists, authentic Iraqi food prepared by a refugee and an educational refugee camp simulation. The event will take place at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart courtyard located at 1114 Virginia Street East, Charleston.

Artists will be showcasing their work during this open house. The art exhibit will include photography by an asylee from Egypt, paintings by an asylee from Burma and fashion design by a refugee from Iraq. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the opportunity to create art of their own by decorating a postcard to send to a refugee child.

An Iraqi educator will share her first-hand experiences from her days in the Chamisko, Iraq, refugee camp. Participants will also have a chance to walk through a simulation a refugee camp.

CCWVa, the only refugee resettlement agency in the state, will accept freewill donations to support the Migration & Refugee Services (MRS) program and will also be selling $5 raffle tickets before and during the event (need not be present to win). The raffle prize is a basket of gift certificates, including a one-night weekend stay at the newly renovated Embassy Suites in Charleston. A 50/50 raffle will be drawn at the event as well.

“Just as you and I work towards creating a stable and happy life for ourselves and our families, so too did refugees before chaos struck their homeland,” said Elizabeth Ramsey, Immigration & Refugee Specialist for CCWVa. “Our goal at Catholic Charities West Virginia’s MRS is to reestablish self-sufficiency as quickly as possible and help refugees regain the sense of normalcy and security they had before they had to leave their homeland due to war, violence, or threats to safety.”

Rich Stonestreet, a member of the planning team, agrees. He said, “I have a personal interest in the plight of immigrants and refugees. My forebears include Thomas Stonestreet, who came to Maryland as an indentured servant in 1663 and my great-grandparents Domenico and Pasqualina (Mazzocco) Schieda, who left Italy for Ohio more than 100 years ago.”

The program is being presented with financial assistance as a grant from the WV Department of Health & Human Resources.

The Refugee Celebration & Art Exhibit is free, family friendly and open to the public. Authentic Iraqi Brioni is available for purchase. Food vouchers are available in advance on the website for $5 or on the day for $7. Visit www.CatholicCharitiesWV.org/blog/RefugeeDay.