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Spotlight on Success – Perusi’s Story

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Learning Opportunity – English for Occupational Purposes (EOP) Classes

Job Training Opportunity – Become an Electrician!

Cross Over Community Development (COCD) Facilitates Culturally Sensitive Case Management Support with CareSource

Volunteers at training.

Cross Over Community Development (COCD) has initiated a project which seeks to remove barriers to health care services for 25 refugee families living in and around the Walnut Hills neighborhood in inner East Dayton. These particular families need extra support in acclimating to life in the United States because they lived for a long time in desperate conditions prior to arriving in this country. Accessing health care is at the forefront of their challenges. To address this critical need, COCD has partnered with CareSource to help remove barriers to service by improving refugees’ familiarity with and comfort in accessing CareSource health care services.

CareSource staff discussing services.

CareSource and COCD staff are working together to train community volunteers regarding how to provide individualized, culturally-sensitive case management support to refugee individuals and families.

The first meeting was held August 1, 2019, and involved directly working with the refugee families who will receive specialized case management. The second training (pictured here) was held August 15.

Volunteers and representatives from partnering organizations met beforehand for instructions. Partners in that meeting included Wright State University (WSU) – Ellis Human Development Institute, Miami Valley Career Technology Center, Catholic Social Services, and individual volunteer students from WSU as well as COCD.

Subsequent sessions will be open to the community. All are welcome and strongly encouraged to attend to take part in this important initiative. Beginning on August 29, training sessions will take place every other Thursday (September 12, September 26, October 10, etc.) from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the Colorado Ave. Baptist Church (101 Heaton Ave., Dayton, Ohio, 45410).

The training sessions provide an overview of the CareSource services available to refugees (interpretation services, transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, filling prescription medications at the local pharmacy, helping to find jobs, and case management), identifies why refugees may have trouble accessing those services, and provides ideas for overcoming those barriers. Many refugees, for instance, are unable to access the interpretation services because the digital phone system is predicated on knowing the English language. Similarly, while CareSource provides transportation to and from appointments, many refugees do not feel safe traveling alone with people they don’t know well or with whom they can’t clearly communicate; when unfamiliar drivers appear at their doors, it can trigger traumatic memories of kidnappings in their native country. Consequently, many refugees can neither call for services nor go in person to receive them.

COCD has identified 25 refugee families who come from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to serve as the first group that will receive personalized case management support from COCD staff and volunteers.

According to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Fact Sheet (January 25, 2019), Congolese refugees are at the top of the list of the most recently resettled refugees of the last two years in the United States. With 23 years of ongoing unrest and instability in the DRC, the United Nations has described the Congo situation as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Congolese refugees resettling here are arriving after living in limbo for decades in remote, isolated refugee camps where access to schooling was limited or substandard, adults were not permitted to work, and there was limited access to human services and medical treatment.

When they arrive in the U.S., they face a daunting transition for reasons such as language barriers, culture shock, lack of education, lack of transferable skills, and interrupted career paths. The public in Dayton, Ohio, is largely unaware of the presence of these Congolese refugees. This invisibility makes it difficult for individuals and organizations in the Dayton area to offer the formal and informal support they might otherwise provide to help these refugees become acclimated to their new lives.

With this initiative, COCD and CareSource are working together to directly address some of the most critical barriers that refugees face, and are deepening refugees’ capacity to lead healthy, dignified lives here in their new country.

Cross Over Community Development Announces Free English Classes for Speakers of Other Languages

Beginning in July 2019 thanks to a partnership with the Colorado Ave. Baptist Church, Cross Over Community Development (COCD) is pleased to announce the start of free English classes for speakers of other languages, with an emphasis on meeting the unique needs of oral language learners.

Classes are held Monday through Friday, with morning sessions from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and evening sessions from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. All classes are free and open to the public. Join us and learn through a comfortable, informal process where we offer personalized guidance on how to speak naturally with everyday English. For more information, contact

Volunteer Staff Complete Mentor Training with Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County (MCMC)

On April 11, 2019, several volunteer staff from Cross Over Community Development successfully completed Partner Certification Training led by The Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County. This training is made available to the staff of partner agencies such as COCD who intend to widen their outreach programming for youth. By completing the training, COCD is now a certified partner of the Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County, which opens doors to partnering on services and networking with other organizations in the community.

Pictured here are COCD members Catherine Bitwayiki, Amanda May, Poorani Muregesan, and Jacqueline Radebaugh. Special thanks go to Jane McEwan and Jessica Bloomingdale for leading the training.

The Mentoring Collaborative of Montgomery County, Ohio (MCMC) is the center of support for youth mentoring programs. In 2001 Montgomery County recognized the need for a lead organization to coordinate a network of agencies that were direct providers of mentoring programs for youth. Today the Mentoring Collaborative provides mentoring resource development, training and certification of partner agencies and mentors.

MCMC’s vision is to ensure that every youth who wants a mentor will be connected with an adult who cares about them and who is willing to commit to the mentoring process. Validated research results reflect that young people who have the benefit of a mentor will maneuver through life more successfully.

The emphasis of the organization’s strategy includes:

  • Training the staffs of partners agencies on the Elements of Effective Mentoring
  • Closely-guarded ongoing background screenings of all mentors to ensure “match safety”
  • Continuous training, consultation and technical support for all partner agencies

Mentoring Collaborative is an extension of the Sinclair College brand as a component of community outreach services. In addition to collaborating with Sinclair, MCMC also works in conjunction with the Montgomery County Human Services Planning and Development Department.

Community Meeting Demonstrates Interest in Providing ESOL Programs to Dayton’s Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylees

Led by Director Catherine Bitwayiki, Cross Over Community Development held a public meeting on February 22, 2019, at Church on the Rock in Dayton, Ohio. The meeting was convened to gather input and share progress on our effort to develop tailored ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language) programs for oral-language learner immigrants, refugees, and asylees. Volunteers from the organization alongside members of the church and public to hear from community and project leaders who are lending their support to this important initiative.

We particularly thank Pastor Bruce Lyman, ESL Director of CrossPoint Alliance Church in Akron, Ohio, who is also a Certified ESL trainer, for attending, as well as
Mike Schommer, the president of Walnut Hills Neighborhood Association, the Sisters of Precious Blood, Sister Jean Rene Hoying, and Nancy Frank, and  Kathy Trangestein of Montgomery County Educational Service Center, among others.

Delicious food was provided courtesy of Catherine and other volunteers. Our strong community turnout was a visible sign of interest and support in Cross Over’s work. Thank you to our generous hosts and everyone who joined us!