How to Support Immigrants In Your Community

This was passed along to us from Anne Spencer at strongwomenjoco@gmail.com, a group of activists in Iowa City.  

At our Immigration Issues event on Wednesday 10/18/17, attendees heard from a very knowledgeable and active panel of strong women who are working to support our Johnson County immigrant population. They provided us with valuable information and good suggestions for helping those new to our community who struggle to understand our culture, language and system as they look for jobs, education, affordable housing and a better life.

Here is a list of suggested ways community members can help that our experts provided:

1. Language tutors: Language barriers make everything more difficult. IC Compassion provides one on one tutoring but consistently have a waiting list of non-English speakers waiting for a volunteer. They meet once a week for one hour to help new immigrants learn English.

2. Hosting a family: Again, through IC Compassion, matching up with a family to provide logistical support for practical day to day tasks (where to shop, transportation options, a listening ear, etc), orientation to our culture, navigating our system is welcoming and reduces stress for newcomers, as well as very gratifying to the giver.

3. Orienting/Training Employers: Those who employ immigrants need training and education as well as support to better understand the customs and potential confusions of potential or existing immigrants employees.

4. Habitat for Humanity housing:  Every year, this organization builds houses for immigrant families and welcome anyone interested in assisting.

5. Donate Supplies:  Beds and mattresses are needed regularly. Other items as well, but these are a consistent need. IC Compassion handles these donations.

6. Publicize Immigrant Stories:  Get the word out about the stories these new community members bring to our town. Provide opportunities for them to share in small groups, at churches, schools, gatherings. This puts a face to the population and builds understanding, trust and sense
of community to all.

7. Be Active! Work to repeal the Medicaid Act of 1996 which provides medical care for those new to our country for only 8 months, then not until they have been in the country for over 5 years.

8. List of resources:

Here are websites of organizations that provide volunteer information and opportunities. Please add to this list as you find additional resources!

http://refugeeimmigrant.org

www.ICcompassion.org

http://iowavalleyhabitat.org/

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