Celebrating Volunteers!


As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, let's give a big shoutout to all those big-hearted people who are changing lives and welcoming our newest neighbors with open arms!

Who says you need superpowers to be a hero? Volunteers at Immigrant Legal Center + Refugee Empowerment Center are nothing short of amazing! They make a real difference in the lives of refugees and immigrants in our community by providing essential services such as language classes, transportation, pro bono legal services, and even setting up their new homes! It’s hard not to feel inspired when you think of the impact these volunteers are making. As we celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week, let’s give a big shoutout to all those big-hearted people who are changing lives and welcoming our newest neighbors with open arms!

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are highlighting a few volunteers who make all the difference at ILC + REC. Check out their stories below!

Sharon Thomsen, CS Team Lead

Sharon Thomsen is the team lead for our very first Co-Sponsor team! Sharon and her husband, Larry Thomsen, have formed and led a team of nine through the resettlement process to assist in resettling one of our refugee families.

“It’s been a privilege to walk alongside a family so full of hope and with so many expectations for their shot at the American Dream.  The inevitable hard truth, that America is not perfect, and life is not easy, is heart-wrenching at times, but it’s within our power to temper that reality by giving them a few people they can count on to be kind and caring, and always on their side.  Seeing tears of appreciation for the smallest acts of kindness, realizing we have unknowingly become the family they need in this new country, is humbling beyond words.” 

Kathy Laughlin, English Teacher 


Kathy Laughlin has been a volunteer with REC for a LONG time. Starting her passion for teaching English with REC back in 1993, she has been with REC since its origin. Kathy now leads ESL classes at REC every Wednesday and Friday. Known as “Pkathy” among our Karen clients, Kathy is loved for the kindness and patience she shows with all her students.  

Creighton SCSJ, Home Set-Ups

The Schlegel Center for Service & Justice at Creighton University has played a crucial role in setting up homes for newly arriving refugee families. Once a week, students in the SCSJ program serve with ILC + REC to make sure families have the best start. “The SCSJ engages students in community service, reflection, and action on behalf of justice and sustainability as an integral part of their Jesuit, Catholic university education.”


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