About Us​

We provide holistic and culturally effective refugee resettlement services that empower newcomers to thrive in their new lives.

Omaha has been welcoming immigrants for decades. Omaha is an appealing destination for immigrants and refugees for its Midwestern values, civic-minded people, low cost of living, and vast entry level employment opportunities. We look forward to welcoming refugees from new countries and cultures every year. 

Our History

Founder and former Executive Director, Tor Kuet, migrated to Omaha with a friend. Tor realized that the transition of a refugee from a refugee camp to the fast-paced American culture was very difficult. When issues such as language barriers, illiteracy, and transportation are added, there obstacles refugees encounter are more complex to overcome. 

Tor founded the Southern Sudan Community Association in 1997 to help other refugees overcome the challenges of resettling in a new country and achieving economic self-sufficiency. We started with one English language class and a handful of volunteers. Our agency received its first federal grant from the Office of Refugee Resettlement in 1998. 

Beginning in the federal fiscal year 2001, we became a refugee resettlement agency serving as an affiliate of Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) and the Department of State through the International Office of Migration in Washington, D.C. 

In the federal fiscal year 2004, we began to resettle refugees beyond the traditional Sudanese population. We have since resettled refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, and Syria. With this multicultural expansion in mind, a re-branding was in order.   

In 2016, we officially became the Refugee Empowerment Center (REC). With refugees coming from more countries, our team expanded in order to meet the immediate needs of newcomers within their first 90 days. In order to support individuals and families, our team and volunteers focused on settling refugees into their first home, establishing healthcare providers, helping with enrollment in English classes, creating employment connections, expanding their social networks, and more.    

Starting in late 2021, our community began seeing historic resettlement numbers; first from Afghanistan and then, in early 2022, from Ukraine. During that time, Immigrant Legal Center (ILC) and REC boards arrived at a mutually amicable decision to move REC’s day-to-day operations under ILC’s executive leadership.  

In October 2022, REC officially merged as a program of ILC. Through this merger, we bring together a wealth of expertise, experience, and resources that allow our staff to provide a holistic blend of high-quality services to our newest friend and neighbors in Nebraska.