Erin Bell

September 3, 2021
Iowan of the Week
Des Moines Refugee Support

Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize a tireless advocate for the refugee community, Ms. Erin Bell, as Iowan of the Week.

Erin runs the non-profit organization “Des Moines Refugee Support” based in Des Moines and the metro area.  Erin is known as someone who has a big heart and an even bigger vision for supporting thousands of refugees in central Iowa. Des Moines Refugee Support strives to serve as a voice, friend, and mentor for all refugees as they make a new home in Iowa. Their focus as an organization is on empowerment, and they strive to address shared issues and work together to uplift all communities.

Upon arrival in the United States, refugee families receive about 90 days of assistance from a caseworker to help them learn about their new home. That’s not much time when there’s so much to learn. Erin’s goal is to fill the gaps when refugees arrive in Iowa.

One of the programs designed to help fill the gaps is their youth soccer sponsorship program. Erin saw the passion for soccer among many of the refugee children, and knew she had to find a way to bring their dream of playing organized soccer to life. Des Moines Refugee Support partnered with Des Moines Soccer club to raise money through the nonprofit to pay for the kids' cleats, shin guards, registration fees and other items associated with playing an organized sport.  This has allowed the kids that are brand new to Iowa an opportunity to make new friends, get involved in their community, and of course play soccer.

Advocates like Erin, and organizations like Des Moines Refugee Support, are what makes our Iowa communities across the state such great places to live. I will always fight in Congress to be a voice for refugees, and to ensure Iowa is a welcoming place. It is my pleasure name Erin Bell Iowan of the Week.