Ten years ago, the Faith Team was established at Community Alternatives to help refugees in St. Louis who were survivors of torture address mental health issues and coordinate all aspects of their care, including immigration and citizenship issues.
Over the years, thousands of clients who were originally from countries such as Bosnia, Afghanistan, Somalia and beyond, were helped by Ron Klutho and his staff. The Faith Team has been a beacon of goodwill and support for the refugee community in St. Louis for the past decade, first at Community Alternatives, and since 2011 at Places for People.
To ensure that the Faith Team will be able to continue its work for the next decade and beyond, we have reached an agreement with Bilingual International Assistant Services (BIAS) for the Faith Team to become a part of that organization beginning with the next grant-funding cycle, October 1, 2016.
Our highest priority is the well-being of our clients and our employees, and I can guarantee that through the work of Barbara Zawier, who is Places for People’s Clinical Director of Special Projects, and the cooperation of BIAS, no client of the Faith Team will have his or her services interrupted, and all Faith Team staff members will be offered a position.
Places for People began considering this action in the spring when planning sessions began to determine the direction of our organization’s new strategic plan. As part of this process, our Board of Directors, leadership team and members of the strategic planning committee reviewed all programs at Places for People to make sure that they aligned with our current mission and our future goals.
It became evident that the important work performed by the Faith Team is a perfect fit with the mission and vision of BIAS. At Places for People the Faith Team is a specialty focus, but at BIAS the team will be part of an organization that devotes its entire mission and vision to working with refugees.
Places for People initiated a conversation with BIAS leadership to explore the possibility of transferring the Faith Team. Once a preliminary agreement was in place, both organizations sought and received the approval of the St. Louis Mental Health Board, which is currently the primary source of funding for the Faith Team, to move forward.
Please know that this was not a decision or action that was taken lightly or solely due to financial considerations, and if I or the Board of Directors felt this would negatively impact our clients or the Faith Team staff, we would not pursue this action.
For clients who need more intense or longer-term mental health services than can be provided by the Faith Team at BIAS, Places for People will continue to serve as a provider just as we have the past decade.
We are proud of the work of the Faith Team over the years, and I hope you will join us in wishing the five staff members and all of the clients of the Faith Team the best of luck with our longtime collaborative partners at BIAS.
Executive Director, Places for People