Our mission is to care for refugees through relationships and opportunities that provide for their well-being, education and employment as they become contributing members of society.
Every year, thousands of refugees come to the United States seeking a better life. In the early 1990′s, the process of resettling refugees began in the community of Clarkston, GA, a small town located within metro Atlanta. Since this process began, approximately 60,000 refugees have been resettled in this area. With over 150 different ethnic groups represented within and around the city, Clarkston has been named “the most diverse square mile in America” by the New York Times.
History of Friends of Refugees
Refugees first started being resettled in the city of Clarkston in the early 1990’s. As refugees started being resettled in Clarkston, the need for more human support service organizations became apparent. Friends of Refugees (FOR) was founded for this purpose by Pat Maddox. Pat grew up in Clarkston when many of the streets were still dirt and when the pharmacy and grocery store were owned by family friends. She left Clarkston to attend nursing school where she later got married and resided in Florida.
In December of 1995, Pat relocated back to Clarkston. One morning as she was attending church, she came upon an ad in a newsletter asking for volunteers to help meet the needs of a couple of newly arrived Bosnian refugee families. Pat’s connection with these families made a lasting impression on her heart that has helped drive the humanitarian efforts of FOR for the past 11 years. This began her steps into the world of refugees.
In the summer of 1996, food and bread were offered to Pat for distribution. This began her efforts in food and clothing distribution. Many years later, Pat saw the need for a summer camp for refugee children and began a summer day camp in 2002. Shortly after this, Pat began doing after-school homework help with refugee children, which later developed into an after-school program.
In 2005, Friends of Refugees become an official non-profit organization. In 2008, Friends of Refugees hired its first Executive Director, Scott Kelley. Because of the work and dedication of Pat Maddox, Friends of Refugees continues to serve the needs of refugees through its workers, volunteers, and programs.