Immigrants & Refugees 101: A Roadmap for Effective Helping

Image of immigrants and refugees

A panel discussion and conversation around fundamental topics relating to working with immigrant and refugee clients

Date & Time:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM


No cost


St. Catherine University, Mendel Hall room 106. 2004 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, MN


Bula Atomssa is the Social Work Unit Supervisor at Hennepin County Office for Multicultural Services, where he has worked since 1999. He holds an MSW from the University of Minnesota, and a BSW from Metro State. He has pre-social work degrees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Belgium.

Nancy Avila '13 MSW is an outpatient therapist at Family Life Mental Health Center in Coon Rapids. She was previously employed at The Family Partnership (TFP) for two and a half years providing outpatient psychotherapy to clients out of the former Brooklyn Park and current Lake Street locations. Before her time at TFP, Nancy worked at Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES) as a family case manager, a school-linked mental health provider, and a sexual assault psychotherapist who provided outpatient psychotherapy and facilitated domestic violence support groups for women and children. 

Renuka Jayatunge, an immigrant from Sri Lanka, will share her experiences navigating resettlement needs and what she has found to be most helpful from the immigrant perspective.

On behalf of our AEIR students (Area of Emphasis in Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees), I thank you for your interest and participation in Immigrants and Refugees 101: A Roadmap for Effective Helping.
Together we listened and learned new ideas for how we can better navigate the service delivery system for immigrants living in our community. Effective helpers need to know about both (1) current resources for basic needs and health as well as (2) best practices/approaches for meeting the unique needs of migrating people. Underlying this, we need to help each other build specialized knowledge in relevant aspects of immigration law, benefits eligibility, trauma-informed care, cultural & linguistic competence, etc.

As promised, we are attaching here a collection of resources to help you along this journey toward effective helping, toward empowering new arrivals to achieve safety and independence for themselves and their families. We invite you to share these with others and to continue the conversation about effective helping strategies for immigrants and refugees.

It was a pleasure to welcome you to our campus for a fruitful and important conversation.


Eva Solomonson, MSW, LICSW
Faculty Coordinator for the Area of Emphasis in Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (AEIR)
St. Catherine University - University of St Thomas School of Social Work
Tel: 651-962-5833 /

Program hand-outs:


Eligibility for Public Benefits/Local Resources

Specialized Knowledge and Skills

Networking and Advocating

  • African Mental Health Network is a free, collaborative online network of service providers who provide mental health support for immigrants and refugees. To join the Listserv, send an email to 
  • Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network hosts monthly free community meetings in which service providers learn about other providers’ programs and engage in informal professional networking. More information can be found at:
  • Take Action on Migrant Rights – This summary, provided by Advocates for Human Rights, offers big and small actions you can take to support immigrant rights in Minnesota




All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.

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