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United Way of Lancaster County


Level Up & Launch: Parish Resource Center (video)

Kate Good, inset, is the executive director of the Parish Resource Council. (Photos: Kyle Gamble)

(Editor’s Note: This article is part of One United Lancaster’s series on United Way of Lancaster County’s 2023-24 Level Up & Launch grant recipients.)

The Parish Resource Center provides a wide range of services to faith-based organizations: Consulting, training, bookkeeping, website design, a curriculum library and more.

It also has evolved into a major provider of direct services. It is part of the network that provides three free meals every day of the week in Lancaster: It currently provides two of the meals, assists with sourcing food and maintains the program’s website. Volunteers in its “One for One” program assist community members with their health needs, ensuring prescriptions are filled and doctors’ appointments aren’t missed. It collects and maintains stocks of clothing, housewares and childcare supplies to provide to those in need.

It is now launching an initiative to expand legal services to immigrants, with help from a $50,000 Level Up & Launch grant from United Way of Lancaster County.

The program involves training volunteers to obtain accreditation as immigrant representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice. That authorizes them to assist immigrants with obtaining key documents and designations that allow them to live and work in the United States legally, including Temporary Protective Status, tax IDs, work permits and green cards.

Five volunteers with Parish Resource Center are going through the 40-hour training, said the nonprofit’s executive director, Kate Good. The center is seeking accreditation as an organization as well.

The Level Up & Launch grant “is a huge gift,” Good said. “The funding allows us to provide a comprehensive approach to immigration work.”

Lancaster is well known for refugee resettlement, but many immigrants are not refugees and do not have access to refugee services. Navigating the United States’ immigration system is extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive.

“There is a tremendous need for immigration legal services,” Good said. Among other things, the funding will allow the Parish Resource Counsel help clients with the high cost of permit and visa applications. For example, it costs $1,225 to apply for a green card, and the Biden administration is proposing to increase the fee to $1,540.

“One of the biggest reasons that people don’t pursue their immigration status or aren’t able to renew  … is because of the cost of the fees,” she said.

The Parish Resource Center’s work on immigration dates to 2019 when it became the fiscal sponsor for the Immigration Bond & Advocacy Effort, or IBAE, an initiative of local churches and advocacy organizations. It posted bonds for individuals seeking asylum, allowing them to remain free during their cases.

“It feels amazing to feel like we have the opportunity to do something that directly empowers these people’s lives,” Good said “… It has meant a lot to the folks that we help, but it has meant a lot to us, too.”

(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify the role of the Parish Resource Center in the community meal program.)