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Waldorf Hosts Speaker on Refugees in Iowa

Meghan Smith, volunteer specialist from Lutheran Services of Iowa speaks to Waldorf students and Forest City Community Members. Photo by Danica Cheney

By Danica Cheney

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, a volunteer specialist from Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) spoke at Waldorf about refugee services in Iowa.

Meghan Smith grew up in Iowa and when she was younger, she was told life isn’t fair. Which she knew was true but ever since then she has wanted to do anything possible to make life fairer for those who don’t have the privileges that she had throughout her life.

“I have to do something eight hours a day,” said Smith. “I would rather do something that helps people than anything else.”

When she was older, Smith worked for Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) in Marshalltown. The organization is located in a very diverse community and they served a lot of the Hispanic population. Meghan saw that MICA targeted to meet everyone’s needs, but it was difficult to accommodate the needs of someone with a specific barrier.

After working with MICA, Smith worked with an organization that served ethnic minority communities from Burma. She was employed with MICA for two years before she started work with LSI.

As a volunteer specialist at LSI, Smith works with college students and other community members in Des Moines, Iowa who want to be more involved. Another one of her responsibilities includes spreading knowledge about refugee services available in Iowa.

Smith is able to share her knowledge speaking in front of audiences and speaking at Waldorf was an opportunity for her to share her own experiences and the knowledge she has gained.

Waldorf Amnesty International Club in collaboration with the Waldorf Alpha Chi group invited Smith to speak in order to spread awareness on refugees that are near us in Iowa.

Karissa Vetsch, a member of both Alpha Chi and Amnesty International, enjoyed having Smith speak at Waldorf.

“Her presentation was really enlightening and one of my favorite parts was what people should know about working with refugees,” said Vetsch, “she reminded us that they don’t choose to be here and they are just trying to survive.”

During Smith’s speech at Waldorf she shared statistics on refugees in Iowa and in the world. The main goal for Smith and her co-workers is to meet the needs of those that are eligible so that they all can become self-sufficient and achieve their own goals.

“We want to see everyone be able to support themselves and their family on their own,” said Smith, “We want to work ourselves out of a job.”