Father's Day Has Special Meaning to Father from Haiti

Written by Christine Young  

Innocent Ulysee is a father and businessman who was planning to run for political office in Haiti when his family began to receive life-threatening messages. Fearing for their safety, he fled the country to seek asylum for his family.

Catholic Charities of Central Florida welcomed Ulysee to Central Florida in 2011 before the rest of the family could arrive. Case managers helped him to begin a new life here where barriers of language and culture could have otherwise been insurmountable. As a refugee, he was eligible for housing assistance so he could a have safe place to live during this difficult time of transition. With the goal towards self-sufficiency, case managers connected him with opportunities for employment.

"We referred him to an employment services agency where he quickly found work in retail. We also helped him apply for benefits for his family through the Florida Department of Children and Families," said Renel Mompremier, Comprehensive Refugee Services (CRS) Case Manager at Catholic Charities of Central Florida.

It took two years before his three children could arrive in Orlando to join him. However, before they could be reunited, his wife fell sick to lung disease and sadly passed away in Haiti. Despite suffering the loss of a home and a homeland, the family also suffered the loss of their loving wife and mother.

Catholic Charities was there to help them pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

“It means a lot to me to receive help from Catholic Charities," said Ulysee. "Catholic Charities has brought hope to my family during a difficult time."

Their case manager enrolled the oldest son Webster, 19, in free English classes to help him assimilate and pursue work and educational opportunities.

"I look up to my dad and want to do everything I can to help him provide for us," said Webster who is majoring in Cardiology at a local college. He is currently waiting tables to help pay for his education.

Ulysee's younger children, ages 7 and 10, are enrolled in the Refugee Youth Program to help them succeed in school and adjust to their new life. This program provides a minimum of eight hours of academic mentoring per month to children ages 6 to 18.

In January 2012, Catholic Charities of Central Florida was named the lead agency by the Florida Department of Children & Families to coordinate refugee services in Central Florida. This funding for CRS allows Catholic Charities to provide critically needed services to newly-arrived refugees residing in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

For over thirty-five years Catholic Charities of Central Florida has assisted the Church in its role of 'welcoming the stranger' as called to do in the Scriptures, Matthew 25:35.

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