West Michigan community supports refugees

June 01, 2018

With more than 65 million people worldwide forcibly displaced from their countries because of conflict and persecution, Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit organization committed to bringing and keeping families together, is raising awareness for the refugee crisis by hosting its 5th annual Refugee World Cup in Grand Rapids. In celebration of Governor Snyder’s recent proclamation that June 20 will be recognized as World Refugee Day for the state, hundreds of refugees who have relocated to West Michigan from war-torn countries will be participating on Saturday, June 16 alongside local soccer players in Bethany’s annual 12-team soccer tournament.

“The Refugee World Cup is an opportunity for those in the community who have been through similar circumstances to promote the importance of supporting families in their greatest hour of need,” said Jonathan Thornton, refugee advocacy specialist. “Anyone who has seen images from Syria recently knows the devastation refugee families – including many young children – are facing as they flee for their lives.”

Teams and players represent local refugee communities including individuals from Bhutan, Burma, Congo, Iraq, Latin America, Somalia, Syria, USA, Vietnam and more. The event will take place at the Gainey Athletic Complex in Grand Rapids and will run from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The Refugee World Cup is made possible through a variety of co-sponsors, including Michigan Turkey Producers, DECC Company, BYRNE, Herbruck's and Martha's Vineyard.

“We take pride in hosting this event every year,” said Chris Palusky, CEO, Bethany Christian Services. “The soccer tournament is a wonderful way to bring the many refugee communities together, along with others in the Grand Rapids community, for a day of fun.” As a free event open to the public, Refugee World Cup attendees can also enjoy booths dedicated to each country represented in the tournament, kid activities and concessions.

Bethany has helped resettle 6,723 refugee adults and children since 1975. Bethany provides services to refugees that include assistance with medical care, education, transportation, and employment.

For more information on the Refugee World Cup visit Bethany.org/grandrapids or to learn how you can help refugees visit Bethany.org/refugee.