HOUSTON, Texas – On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, over 300 friends of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (Interfaith Ministries) gathered virtually for an exclusive, private virtual event to benefit the organization’s Refugee Services program. For All Humanity – An IM Celebration of New Americans featured a virtual panel interview with successful Houstonians who emigrated from different countries, musical performances by community embedded musicians of the Houston Symphony, and a catered dinner by TRIO Community Meals delivered to patrons and their guests. The event raised more than $88,000.

The event theme, “Finding Home a World Away”, tied in with media sponsor Houstonia magazine’s March 2020 issue highlighting some of Houston’s own success stories featuring local refugees and immigrants. The uplifting and entertaining panel discussion was moderated by Houstonia Editor-in-Chief Dianna Wray. The program honored Rev. Dr. John Wurster, senior pastor of St. Philip Presbyterian Church as Interfaith Ministries’ Refugee Services 2020 Humanitarian of the Year.

The panelists included: Fady Armanious – Creative Director at Tootsie’s; Samir Becic – City of Houston Fitness Czar; Alan Gonzales– fashion designer and Project Runway designer; Judge Lina Hidalgo – Harris County Judge; Pitsami Norm– CEO and Founder of P.S. Affairs; and Gordon Quan– nationally recognized immigration attorney. Lead sponsors included: St. Philip Presbyterian Church, Houstonia Magazine, TRIO Community Meals, Brigitte and Bashar Kalai, and Susan and Dan Boggio/PBK.

Refugees have been granted that status by the United Nations and are fleeing their home countries due to war or persecution. They go through a comprehensive vetting process involving multiple federal agencies. Interfaith Ministries provides a variety of support services designed to empower each refugee to quickly and successfully acculturate to American life. Over 90% of the refugees served are self-sufficient within six months of arrival in the United States.

“These families are often traumatized by the experiences that led them to flee their countries, yet they are also very resilient,” shared Ali Al Sudani, Chief Programs Officer for Interfaith Ministries and a former refugee from Iraq who assisted American and British troops in his home country.

A recorded version of the program may be viewed at: https://youtu.be/YzPOpZM_urM.