The Refugee Welcoming Coalition (RWC) is an alliance of faith communities, civic organizations, and individual volunteers formed in September 2021 in response to the high volume of refugees arriving in the United States from Afghanistan. Members of the Frederick, Maryland community saw a need to support these new arrivals and sought to help them settle into our region. From that mission, RWC was born.
Soon after its formation, RWC partnered with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA). LSSNCA is the regional office of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS), one of nine official resettlement agencies partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In conjunction with LSSNCA, we sponsor Afghan families settling in the Frederick, Maryland area.
Additionally we work with the Literacy Council of Frederick County to teach reading and other English language skills. To volunteer as an ESL tutor, visit the Literacy Council and indicate that you are a volunteer with the Refugee Welcoming Coalition.
The Refugee Welcoming Coalition of Frederick (RWC) empowers refugees and asylum seekers to resettle in Frederick County, Maryland with dignity and to become self-sufficient, contributing members of the community.
RWC helps refugees transition to life in the Frederick region and ultimately become self-sufficient. When a refugee family arrives, we assist LSSNCA in finding them suitable housing in the area. We then prepare their home with donated furniture and household items. Then, we continue to support them by providing assistance with accessing vital resources including those related to cultural adaptation, job placement, transportation, school enrollment, health services, and navigating bureaucracy. Additionally, as English-speaking skills are important to achieving independence, we help families enroll in ESL classes or receive in-home ESL tutoring.
Meet The Team
Elizabeth Chung is the Executive Director of the Asian American Center of Frederick. Since immigrating to the United States in 1970, she has been a strong advocate for minority health. Through her volunteerism and active public service, Elizabeth has received numerous awards and in 2020 was appointed by Maryland Governor Hogan to be the Chair of the Maryland Community Health Resource Commission.
Dat Duthinh witnessed war in his native Vietnam. His family became refugees twice, finally settling in the United States. He has been active in peace and justice movements for several decades.
Dat is a graduate of Princeton and Cornell, holds a Ph.D. in engineering, and recently retired from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he worked on improving the resilience of the infrastructure to natural disasters.
Mehra Bahremand Blott
Dr. Mehra Bahremand Blott has a background as a public health scientist doing vaccine research and educator teaching undergraduate and graduate courses. She recently transitioned to becoming a stay-at-home parent and running an organic family-owned farm. In her spare time, Mehra enjoys caring for animals, teaching children about farms, and advocating for social justice.
Betsy Bainbridge is a retired teacher, Peace Corps volunteer, editor, college admissions officer
and registrar, non-profit foundation director, town council member, national education data
standards lead. Currently she is co-chair of the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian
Universalist Congregation of Frederick.
Rev. Rebecca Shillingburg is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (UCC). Rev.Shillingburg has Masters Degrees in Economics and Computer Science but left these fields when she was called to ministry. Recently retired, she is currently a member at Evangelical Reformed UCC in Frederick.
Dr. Wais Insaaf, MD is a native of Afghanistan, who resettled in the US when he was a teenager. He experienced war in his own country as a child. Currently he is serving as a board member of Islamic Society of Frederick.