Since the International Rescue Committee (IRC) first opened its office in Salt Lake City 25 years ago in 1994, the Refugee Resettlement Committee (RRC) from the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City has been supporting newly arrived refugees in the community. Through the years, the nearly 30 dedicated volunteers of the RRC helped set up hundreds of homes for arriving refugee families.

Members of the refugee resettlement committee sitting outside a home on donated chairs and cushions.
Members of the Refugee Resettlement Committee after an apartment set up.
Photo: Bonnie Baty

A few years ago, when the number of refugee arrivals peaked at the end of President Obama’s administration, the RRC volunteers would set up at least one apartment per week, sometimes as many as three in one week.

“I enjoy it…we have some fun with what we do. We work pretty hard the days we work,” says RRC volunteer, Jim Wilcox.

In addition to setting up and decorating apartments for new arrivals, the RRC coordinates and facilitates community furniture donations.

“Even when we’re not [setting up a new home], when there is a week without a set-up, these guys are still doing furniture pick-ups. They are still getting calls from donors who have furniture,” Nancy Rasmussen, who has volunteered with the RRC for 10 years, explains. The volunteers pick up furniture donations from Logan to Park City and across the Wasatch Front, educating the community as they pick up furniture by explaining where it is going and who will benefit from it.

Joe DuBray, coordinator for the RRC, explains why the group began volunteering with the IRC and continued their efforts for so many years: “We have an admission, in terms of what our organization is focused around, and foundational to that is the first principle of our Unitarian Universalist Church and that is in recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. So that’s a fundamental around which we try to act in terms of what we do in delivery here. That’s been the guide for as long as the group has been active.”

Bonnie Baty, another long-time volunteer of the RRC has seen many community members donate furniture that they could otherwise sell in order to support refugees.

“A lot of people say to me, ‘I would sell this, but if the refugees could use it, then I won’t, I’ll give it to you,’” Bonnie explains. "We pick up things that are very nice, they could definitely be sold for quite a bit. To have things that are valuable and have dignity, that’s part of the inherent worth. One of our rules is ‘if you wouldn’t give it to your grandmother, don’t give it to refugees.’”

The RRC volunteers go above and beyond to ensure newly arrived refugee families feel welcome and comfortable in their new home. Through partnerships with various local organizations, the committee collects artwork and other “pretties” they use to decorate refugees’ homes. They also provide welcome baskets filled with common household items that aren’t otherwise equipped to newly arrived families.

From everyone at the IRC in Salt Lake City, a sincere thanks to all current and former members of the RRC and First Unitarian Church for their dedication to supporting and welcoming refugees in our community!

Consider making a gift this holiday season to support our continued efforts, and the efforts of our friends in the community like the First Unitarian Church, to welcome refugees. Learn more about our in-kind donation needs by visiting or make your charitable contribution to support our work at