Knoxville: (865) 540-1311
| Chattanooga: (423) 954-1911
Knoxville: (865) 540-1311 Chattanooga: (423) 954-1911

December 19, 2017



Dear Friends and Supporters of Bridge,


As we close out this year, we at Bridge Refugee Services are focused on our blessings, celebrating that during the past twelve months we have been able, with your support, to continue the life-saving work that is our mission: assisting refugees fleeing persecution and violence to be successful in establishing themselves in a new community. Despite the limits of Executive Orders, travel restrictions and public rhetoric that has at times been divisive, our staff and our board of directors have demonstrated steadfast commitment to resettling in Knoxville and Chattanooga new refugee arrivals from around the globe. Generous donors, members of faith communities across the region, and employers who have hired our clients, all have been valued partners, enabling us to assist over 300 refugees seeking peace and safety in our welcoming cities. To all of you who have supported us through this most challenging year, we offer our sincerest thanks.  Because of the generosity of our donors and supporters, our clients will usher in this holiday season secure in their new homeland.


During 2017 our clients have had great successes, and we applaud them.  Many have become entrepreneurs in our communities, building businesses including catering and restaurants that thrive and offer employment to others.  Our clients have also found jobs performing work essential to all of us: they are health professionals, college professors, electricians, plumbers, house cleaners, roofers, truck drivers, contractors and construction workers, landscapers, agricultural workers, mechanics, artists and musicians; they sew and make alterations,
work in a variety of packing and processing plants, and staff our hotels; they are in college obtaining advanced education. With hard work and determined effort, our clients have become self-sufficient, contributing members of our communities; they are part of the rich fabric of our civic life.


At the same time, we remain acutely aware that there are millions of displaced persons worldwide who this holiday season are waiting and praying for the opportunity to settle in a safe place where they too can establish roots.  These displaced persons have no safe shelter, no medical care, and inadequate food to feed their families. Countless refugees fleeing violence and persecution throng to camps without running water or adequate housing or sanitation because they hold fast to hope that a bright, safe future exists somewhere for themselves and their families. The people Bridge will resettle next year will come from among those who today struggle to keep hope alive under the direst of circumstances.  Although the numbers of refugees the United States has committed to resettle in 2018 is diminished from years past, Bridge’s doors remain open.  Our work continues.


With this letter, we are asking for your financial support to assist us because we cannot fulfil our mission alone. Federal funding that passes to us through resettlement agencies such as Episcopal Migration Ministries and Church World Service covers only the absolute basic essentials of resettlement: rent and utilities for the first several months, food for the cupboard to get arrivals past the first days, medical exams to assure they are healthy for their job search, and staff to provide case management and provide orientation to American laws, school systems, transportation, accessing medical services. Staff also teach financial literacy, hygiene, health and safety. It is only with your financial contributions that we can move beyond the bare-bones basics. Your donations allow us to fund bus passes for the weeks of job searching, pre-employment coaching, driver’s education, clothing to help clients make it through a cold winter, emergency assistance in times of crisis, and to maintain sufficient staff to accompany our clients on their path to self-sufficiency. Not everyone who supports the mission of Bridge is able to come to the airport to greet new arrivals, or move furniture to make apartments welcoming, but everyone can help by giving generously to support the work.


It is with great humility that we ask you to please remember us and our clients during this holiday season.  If you have contributed to us in the past, know that we and our clients are grateful for your generosity of spirit; we ask you to renew your contribution.  If you have never been a donor, we ask that you consider a contribution now.  We have reason to expect that the limits to our federal funding will be even more strained in the year ahead, making the generosity of donors absolutely essential to our success. Every contribution, large or small, enables us to serve our clients better, with resources to assist them in quickly establishing themselves in their new homeland.


Direct donations can be made online through our website,, or by mail.

Additionally, we ask that you consider taking the following actions which can aid us in our work:


  • Share information about Bridge with your friends, neighbors and acquaintances, family, and people you know who might have interest in contributing funds, volunteering to assist, or hiring refugees.
  • Communicate with U.S. senators and congressional representatives, asking them to advocate for refugees, and hold our government accountable for meeting the established quota for refugee resettlement in the coming year.
  • Call us if you have any questions about refugees or refugee resettlement, the screening process refugees complete prior to their arrival, how to hire a refugee, or the ways in which members of your community can volunteer. We can also arrange a speaker to come to your place of worship or other organization to explain our work, our needs, and ways to help.
  • If you are a member of an organization or faith community with commitment to vulnerable people, consider sponsoring a refugee or refugee family for a period of six months. Contact us for details.
  • Consider a special collection or sponsor a fundraising event to raise money to assist us in the work of refugee resettlement.
  • Pray for us and our clients, perhaps adding their intentions to those remembered in a special way during your worship services.

Anything you can do to help us now, or in the future, will be deeply appreciated.


With gratitude and all good wishes for a joyful holiday season and prosperous year ahead,




Susan Speraw, PhD, RN                                                       Drocella Mugorewera

Chair, Board of Directors                                                       Executive Director