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About REC

Mission & Vision

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

We are a community-based, Nebraska 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

Our Vision:
To support peace-seekers fleeing violence and persecution as they work towards achieving their American Dream. To act as a catalyst in welcoming immigrants and refugees into Nebraska, and in so doing, create a stronger and more diverse community for all of us.  To ensure newcomers not only survive, but maximize their potential and rekindle their joy.

What We Do

It’s all in our name! 

REFUGEE resettlement and support. 

EMPOWERMENT through economic advancement and social change. 

CENTER for cultural connections, community, and collaboration. 

Resettlement: Meeting immediate needs of newcomers in their first 90 days: settling into their first home, establishing healthcare providers, enrollment in English classes, employment connections, and more.   

Empowerment: Driving classes, financial literacy, access to higher education and job skill development, leadership and civic engagement opportunities. 

Center: Expanding social support networks, creative space to share and celebrate home cultures, and the chance for former refugees to give back to their new communities. 

History

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.

In 1997, 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 is very difficult. When issues such as language barriers, illiteracy, and transportation are added, there are even more obstacles to overcome.

Beginning in 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.

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 Office of Refugee Resettlement in 1998.

In fiscal year 2004, we began to resettle refugees beyond the traditional Sudanese caseload. We have since resettled refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia, and Syria.  We look forward to welcoming refugees from new countries and cultures every year.

With this multicultural expansion in mind, a re-branding was in order.  In 2016 we officially became the Refugee Empowerment Center. 

2019-2022 Strategic Plan

Our three-year strategic plan will serve as a framework from which we work to help Nebraska newcomers become successfully engaged in employment and with the Omaha community.

Read more about our goals and how we’ll achieve them here.