August 06, 1979 12:00 PM

For months the tragedy of the Boat People has been almost an abstraction in this country: horrifying images seen on TV but not fully comprehended. Now America and its people seem ready to act. Here are three ways you, your family and friends can help, ways you personally can make a difference.

Rarely has there been an exodus so appalling in its scope and so tragic in its human toll as the flight of Vietnam’s Boat People. As a result of the United Nations conference in Geneva on the plight of the refugees, a number of governments—including that of the U.S.—have promised additional help. But America’s true strength has always been in the generosity of its individual citizens, who have never hesitated to aid the unwitting and unwilling victims of calamity—natural or political. But we Americans are also practical and, in view of this, PEOPLE magazine offers three steps you can take right now to ease the suffering of tens of thousands of refugees. On the following page is the name of an agency, with address and telephone number, in your state (or province) that eagerly awaits your offer of help. Specifically, here is what you can do:

Give financial support to groups involved in refugee work

Money is needed by private agencies that have mounted rescue operations in the South China Sea or that provide direct relief—food, clothing, medical aid, shelter—for refugees while they are still in Southeast Asia. Among the agencies listed on the next page are private organizations that need funds to provide language and job training, as well as a wide range of other services, once the refugees have been relocated in this country.

Sponsor an individual or a family that wishes to settle in the U.S.

This may be the most urgent need. Unlike the earlier relocation effort after the fall of South Vietnam in 1975, agencies now recommend that groups rather than individuals sponsor new arrivals. The reason: If the responsibility is shared, there is less chance of something going awry. Convince your church, fraternal or civic group to become a sponsor. If you are not affiliated with such an organization, create one of your own with friends or neighbors. With the help of proper agencies, you and your group should be prepared at the outset to arrange for housing and jobs and to give advice on health care, language training and schools for the refugee or refugee family.

Lobby local, state and federal governments for more action

No single national organization—governmental or private—exists to coordinate relocation efforts, and existing programs vary widely from community to community and state to state. On the local level you can mobilize school districts to set up language and vocational programs. Iowa’s Robert D. Ray is the only governor currently coordinating all state resettlement efforts through his own office. In Missouri a number of groups—both church and nonsectarian—have formed a coalition. Pressure from you and other citizens may persuade your own state to set up some kind of coordinating office. On the national level, write your representative, your senators and the White House to urge the immediate airlift of thousands of Boat People out of overcrowded refugee camps in Southeast Asia to unused American military bases here and abroad—as was done in the 1975 refugee relocation program. Demand that the federal government move to speed up immigration procedures by increasing the size of its interviewing staffs in the refugee camps. Whatever you decide, be sure to follow through. Get involved.

Where to go

Here is an agency to contact in your state to offer to help or to learn about other religious and charitable groups active in the Boat People relief effort. This list was compiled by PEOPLE with the best information available last week.


Catholic Social Services

Migration and Refugee Services

P.O. Box 759, Mobile, Ala. 36601

(205) 438-1603


Alaska State Volunteer Services

225 Cordova St., Bldg. B, Suite 102

Anchorage, Alaska 99501

(907) 276-2600


Lutheran Social Ministry of Arizona

1500 West Maryland Ave.

Phoenix, Ariz. 85015

(602) 249-3812


ICR Resettlement Program

Catholic Diocese of Little Rock

2500 N. Tyler St.

Little Rock, Ark. 72207

(501) 664-6028


Migration and Refugee Services

U.S. Catholic Conference

P.O. Box 850

San Clemente, Calif. 92672

(714) 498-1650


Denver Catholic Resettlement Ctr.

2844 Lawrence St.

Denver. Colo. 80205

(303) 573-5666


International Institute of Conn.

480 E. Washington Ave. 0

Bridgeport. Conn. 06608

(203) 336-0141


Catholic Social Services

1200 N. Broom St.

Wilmington. Del. 19806

(302) 655-9624


American Refugee Committee of Greater Washington

1630 Crescent PI. N.W.

Washington. D.C. 20009

(202) 387-8883


U.S. Catholic Conference

Migration and Refugee Services

24 Hollywood Blvd.

Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. 32548

(904) 243-3525


Catholic Social Services

756 West Peachtree St., NW

Atlanta, Ga. 30308

(404) 881-6571


Indochinese Refugee Employment Project

838 S. Beretania St., Room 308

Honolulu. Hawaii 96813

(808) 523-7961


U.S. Catholic Conference

P.O. Box 769

Boise. Idaho 83701

(208) 342-1311


Governor’s Center for Asian Assistance

160 N. LaSalle St., Room 2006

Chicago, Ill. 60601

(312) 793-3150


Archdiocesan Social Ministries

915 N. Holmes Ave.

Indianapolis, Ind. 46222

(317) 634-1913


Refugee Service Center

150 Des Moines St.

Des Moines, Iowa 50316

(515) 281-4334


Social and Rehabilitation Services

2700 W. 6th St.

Topeka, Kans. 66606

(913) 296-3282


Bureau for Social Services

Dept. for Human Resources

275 E. Main St.

Frankfort, Ky. 40621

(502) 564-6936


Associated Catholic Charities, Inc.

2929 S. Carrollton Ave.

New Orleans, La. 70118

(504) 821-5390


Division of Community Services State House

Augusta, Maine 04333

(207) 289-3771


Associated Catholic Charities

Indochina Center

204 E. 25th St.

Baltimore, Md. 21218

(301) 235-3544


Friends of Boat People, Inc.

11 Beacon St.

Boston, Mass. 02108

(617) 367-1212


Governor’s Office

Executive Plaza Building

1200 6th St.

Detroit, Mich. 48226

(313) 256-2890


Indochinese Resettlement Office

Centennial Office Bldg.

St. Paul, Minn. 55155

(612) 296-8140


Miss. Baptist Convention Board

P.O. Box 530

Jackson, Miss. 39205

(601) 354-3704


Missouri Coalition for Refugee Resettlement

4625 Lindell Blvd., Suite 501

St. Louis, Mo. 63108

(314) 361-2121


Lutheran Social Services

P.O. Box 1345

Great Falls, Mont. 59401

(406) 761-4341


Indochinese American Association

714 N. 48th St.

Omaha. Nebr. 68132

(402) 558-6378


Human Resources Department

505 E. King St.

Carson City, Nev. 89710

(702) 885-5730


N.H. Catholic Charities

215 Myrtle St.

Manchester, N.H. 03104

(603) 669-3030


Catholic Community Services

Office of Migration

1 Summer Ave.

Newark, N.J. 07104

(201) 482-0100


American-Asian Human Services

4149 Montgomery N.E.

Albuquerque, N.Mex. 87109

(505) 277-4745


State Dept. of Social Services

40 N. Pearl St.

Albany, NY. 12243

(518) 474-9629


Dept. of Human Resources

325 N. Salisbury St.

Raleigh, N.C. 27611

(800) 662-7030


Governor’s Task Force on Refugees State Capital

Bismarck, N.Dak. 58505

(701) 224-2643


Migration and Refugee Resettlement Task Force

c/o Lutheran Immigration Service

57 E. Main St.

Columbus, Ohio 43215

(614) 228-5209


Catholic Social Services

739 N. Denver St., Tulsa, Okla. 74106

(918) 585-8167


Indochinese Cultural and Service Center

1607 N.E. 41st Ave.

Portland, Oreg. 97232

(503) 288-6206


Refugees Services Dept.

Tressler Lutheran Service Assoc.

2331 Market St.

Camp Hill, Pa. 17011

(800) 382-1269


Information and Referral Service

Council for Community Services

229 Waterman St.

Providence, R.I. 02906

(401) 351-6500


S.C. Indochinese Refugee Agency

P.O. Box 1520

Columbia, S.C. 29202

(800) 922-1548


Lutheran Social Services

600 W. 12th St.

Sioux Falls, S.Dak. 57104

(605) 336-3387


Refugee Resettlement Program for the Diocese of Nashville

2400 21st Ave. S.

Nashville, Tenn. 37212

(615) 383-6393


Migration and Refugee Services

U.S. Catholic Conference

3845 Oak Lawn

Dallas, Texas 75219

(214) 528-4870


Division of Children, Youth and Families

State Dept. of Social Services

150 W. North Temple St.

Salt Lake City, Utah 84103

(801) 533-7120


Catholic Charities, Inc.

351 North Ave.

Burlington, Vt. 05401

(802) 658-6110


Virginia Council of Churches

2321 Westwood Ave.

Richmond, Va. 23230

(804) 353-5587


Wash. Association of Churches

Resettlement and Job Program

810 18th Ave, Room 206

Seattle, Wash. 98122

(206) 325-3277


Office of Refugees and Migration Services

Diocese Wheeling Charleston

1033 Quarrier St.

Charleston, W.Va. 25301

(304) 343-1036


Resettlement Assistance Office

4802 Sheboygan Ave., Room 99A

Madison, Wis. 53702

(608) 266-8354


Catholic Social Services

P.O. Box 2247, Casper, Wyo. 82601

(307) 237-2723


All mail or telephone queries should be directed to CANADA IMMIGRATION in each province:

9925 109th St., Edmonton, ALBERTA T5K2J8 (Including Northwest Territories) (403) 425-5959

1550 Alberni St., Vancouver, BRITISH COLUMBIA V6G2X5 (Including the Yukon) (604) 666-2171

Grain Exchange Building, Room 190, 167 Lombard Ave., Winnipeg, MANITOBA R3B0T6 (204) 949-3755

Box 2600, Fredericton. NEW BRUNSWICK E3B5V6 (506) 452-3711

Box 12051, St. John’s, NEWFOUNDLAND A1B3Z4 (709) 737-4071

Box 2463, Halifax. NOVA SCOTIA B3J3E4 (902) 426-6140

480 University Ave., Toronto, ONTARIO M5G1V2 (416) 369-3546

199 Grafton St., Charlottetown, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND C1A8K1 (902) 892-4219

Alexis Nihon Plaza, 1500 Atwater Ave., Montreal, QUEBEC H3Z1Y1 (514) 283-5420

2101 Scarth St., Regina. SASKATCHEWAN S4P2H9 (306) 569-6237

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