Casa Guate continues to help refugee families in Kirksville

Last fall, Casa Guate opened its doors to refugees in need of aid, and this semester, Casa Guate continues its mission while it looks toward future goals for the project.

The United States is the world’s top resettlement country for refugees, and during 2015, almost 70,000 individuals arrived in the United States as refugees, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Casa Guate owner Lynn Carter, OFS, says Casa Guate hosted a Colombian family seeking asylum in the United States during the last year and a local family who needed temporary housing after their house burned down.

In November 2015, Carter says she got a call from one of her contacts in Texas about a woman and her children who needed a home. As soon as the family had walked over the border and declared they were seeking asylum, their father was taken from them and detained in Boston, Carter says, which the family didn’t know would happen.

The family lived at Casa Guate for three months while members of the Kirksville community worked to get the father out of detention in Boston, Carter says. After they secured his release, she says he came to Kirksville and the family remained in the house for another three months until moving on to a larger city with more people from their country.

Carter says Casa Guate took a short break after the family left from housing families to raise funds.

Carter says Casa Guate just recently took on its next family. Thursday, she got a call about a family who needed the house. She says three hours later she met the family at Casa Guate, and they moved in the next morning.

Carter says she is thankful for the support she’s received from the community and those involved.

“The best part is to see the about 75 people who are involved either locally or long distance really come together,” Carter says.

Carter says people help with things as small as cleaning the house to providing donations to cover groceries for the family and utilities for house.

Carter says Casa Guate occasionally runs into funding issues and cultural or personal differences between families, but it manages to work through challenges as they arise.

Carter says Casa Guate was formed with Central American refugees in mind, but is open to anyone who needs its services. Because Carter speaks Spanish, she says it helps when those needing asylum speak Spanish.

Carter says there is no set time period for those staying in the house. Each family has different needs which can take different periods of time. She says she does ask families to be aware of the time they are fully supported by the community to keep them from becoming a burden on the community’s resources.

Carter says Casa Guate is currently working on achieving nonprofit status, which would allow larger donations to come to the house. She says Casa Guate is also working on drawing up a set of guidelines for the residents staying in the home to help work through some the challenges that have arisen in the past. The plan is to have these goals accomplished by 2017, she says.

“I think the whole community should be proud of it,” Carter says.

For more information about Casa Guate and ways to get involved, contact Carter at