by Felecia Maxfield-Barrett

Guest Blogger, Executive Director, Utah Refugee Coalition

Governor Herbert has declared June as Refugee Month in Utah stating that “refugees do not choose to leave their homes, but are forced to flee from persecution and terror in their native countries.”

Refugees live in Utah after legal placement by the U.S. State Department because of a well-founded fear of persecution, torture, or death due to race, religion, nationality, political association, or social group.  Each year, approximately 1,200 refugees arrive in Utah directly from refugee camps adding to the nearly 30,000 that currently call Utah home.

Utah Refugee Month is a month long celebration acknowledging the courage, honor, and resilience of the refugee communities in Utah.  Throughout the month, events are scheduled to educate and gain public support for local refugees on their journey of integration.  Utah residents and businesses are urged to ‘Do One Thing’ to assist refugees living in Utah.  We kindly invite you to ‘Do One Thing’ by making a difference for refugees in Utah during the month of June.  This call to action is simple – it can be done by attending one of the many free events during the month, finding a volunteer opportunity, educating someone about refugees, befriending a refugee, or providing resources to support the refugee community.  Accepting this call to action is an expression of solidarity for our community and a message of welcome for those who are new.  With your help, we can meet the goal of bettering the lives of more than 30,000 refugees living in Utah.

Planned events and activities include cultural entertainment, workshops, panel discussions, film screenings, a 5k fun run, and the internationally recognized World Refugee Day Festival.  For event details and ongoing calendar updates please visit and click on the link for Utah Refugee Month or contact Felecia Maxfield-Barrett at

Here are a few highlights:

  • TUESDAY, JUNE 5th Creating Diversity – A refugee Panel Discussion 6:30pm-8:00pm
  • FRIDAY, JUNE 8TH Women of the World Fashion Show 6:00pm – 9pm
  • THURSDAY, JUNE 14TH  Pushing the Elephant Film Screening and panel discussion 7pm-8pm
  • TUESDAY, JUNE 19TH Crossing Midnight film screening 7pm-8:30pm
  • SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD Run for Refugees 5K run/walk
  • TUESDAY, JUNE 26TH The Last Survivor film screening and panel discussion 7pm-9pm

***United Way of Salt Lake partners with refugee serving organizations to ensure the academic success of refugee youth and young adults.  Please see the United Way website for more information on our refugee goals.  Dial 2-1-1 for more details on how you can volunteer for Utah Refugee Month.***