A 35-year tradition

Seventy years ago, as WWII was coming to a close and war-torn Europe was facing a monumental humanitarian crisis, a vision was born in the Church. Faithful believers around the country began to fast, pray, give, and volunteer to assist those impacted by the war, in an effort that would later become known as World Relief.

In 1979, the Church responded again with unprecedented effort and vision, and World Relief opened its doors in cities across the US to welcome refugees from Laos, Burma, Vietnam, and Cambodia. World Relief would go on to become one of the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the world.

World Relief Seattle's first home in the International District

World Relief Seattle’s first home in Seattle’s International District

This year, World Relief Seattle marks 35 years of operation, and we hope you will take a moment to reflect with us on the faithfulness of volunteers and the overwhelming provision of God that has sustained this ministry of welcome.

In the early days of World Relief Seattle, volunteers were vital to the refugee resettlement process. Members of local churches opened their homes and lives, sacrificing their time to pick people up at the airport, to prepare meals, to help children enroll in school, to teach English classes, and to invest in the lives of newcomers. They saw the unique needs of refugees and immigrants, and immediately and creatively mobilized to address those needs. Their vision helped shape the direction and build the capacity of World Relief Seattle, eventually contributing to Seattle being one of the top refugee resettlement cities in the country.


Refugees and volunteers continue to be connected in mutually-transformative, life-changing relationships.

Today, although the geographic areas of turmoil have changed, the response of the Church in Seattle is constant. As World Relief Seattle celebrates 35 years of operation, we also celebrate a 35-year legacy of faithful service. Individuals of all backgrounds, ages, and levels of experience pour themselves into the refugee and immigrant community, and remain essential to the life-transformation that is our goal.

Are you a volunteer? Then your story is our story! Whether you’ve served for 1 day or for 35 years, we would love to hear from you. Share your stories and memories with us by emailing volunteerseattle@wr.org with the subject “looking back”.

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