Learning Together: Books & Movies for Social Distancing

Some of our staff and community members have provided recommendations for books, movies, documentaries, podcasts, and learning resources for our community members to learn from and enjoy while we’re away from the Center. Many of these resources provide insight into topics related to the Catherine McAuley Center mission, including (but not limited to): the refugee/immigrant experience, women’s equality and empowerment, language, and diversity.

Even though we’re social distancing, we can still be social! Share photos of yourself taking advantage of these resources (think cozy book nooks, family movie nights, etc.) and insights into what you learn using #LearningTogetherCMC! Be sure to tag the Catherine McAuley Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Please note: These were submitted by members of the CMC community. CMC does not endorse any particular point of view shared in these resources. Viewer discretion is advised in some cases- please view synopsis at links provided before viewing/reading.

Books (non-fiction)

  • We, the Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa – Vol. 1 and 2 Goodreads 
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler – Goodreads
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – Goodreads
  • A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming – Goodreads
  • Essential Linguistics: What Teachers Need to Know to Teach ESL, Reading, Spelling, and Grammar by David and Yvonne FreemanGoodreads
  • Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks – Goodreads
  • Asylum Denied: A Refugee’s Struggle for Safety in America by David Ngaruri Kenney, Philip G. Schrag – Goodreads
  • The Genius of Language: Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongue by Wendy Lesser Goodreads
  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin Goodreads
  • Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario – Goodreads 
  • The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community by Mary Pipher, Susan Cohen – Goodreads
  • Tender Courage: A Reflection on the Life and Spirit of Catherine McAuley, First Sister of Mercy by M. Joana Regan – Goodreads
  • Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem – Goodreads
  • Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Verji – Goodreads
  • A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage by Christina Wolbrecht – Goodreads
  • Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf – Goodreads
  • The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang – Goodreads
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – Goodreads, https://www.zinnedproject.org/

Books (fiction)

  • A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi – Goodreads
  • Sea Prayer by Khalid Hosseini – Goodreads
  • Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty series (The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, A Death in Sarajevo, Among the Ruins, A Dangerous Crossing, A Deadly Divide) by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Goodreads
  • The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman – Goodreads
  • Season of Migration to the North, by Al-Tayyib Salih – Goodreads

Books for kids

  • My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner – Goodreads
  • Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers and Livi Gosling – Goodreads (a Hiawatha author!)

Podcasts and TED Talks

Things to watch

  • Amelia – IMDB
  • First They Killed My Father IMDB
  • The Good Lie IMDB
  • God Grew Tired of Us IMDB
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy IMDB
  • HarrietIMDB
  • Hidden FiguresIMDB
  • In The Land of Blood and Honey – IMDB
  • Iron Jawed AngelsIMDB
  • On the Basis of SexIMDB
  • The Visitor IMDB

Online learning resources

  • News for You Online is an online newspaper for English learners. You can read and listen to many different articles to build your English vocabulary and reading skills.

https://www.newreaderspress.com/news-for-you-online 

password: 18B018

  • NewsELA is another news website for English learners. Log in and click “Your Assignments” for articles you can study if you are preparing to be a U.S. citizen!

https://newsela.com/ 

username: education@cmc-cr.org
password: abc#0444

  • Side by Side eText is an online version of your Side by Side textbook.  There are some extra games in the Fun Zone after each chapter.  You can make your own account (follow the directions inside the cover of your textbook) or use CMC’s login information.

https://sso.rumba.pearsoncmg.com/sso/login?&k12int=true&service=http://rumba.bookshelf.ebookplus.pearsoncmg.com/ebook/linktoebook16.do

username: cmc-cr
password: abc#0444


We’re all looking for connection in this time of social distancing. To help the adult learners, women healing from trauma, immigrants, and refugees who find hope at the Catherine McAuley Center, please consider setting up a monthly gift. Your support helps us find innovative ways to keep our neighbors connected today and into the future.

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Giving supports refugee resettlement and support

Dear Friends,

As a friend of the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC), you know that our refugee and immigrant neighbors are finding valuable connections at CMC. But did you know that last year, 260 refugees made Eastern Iowa their home with the Center’s help? These neighbors who have experienced untold violence in their lives now have housing, medical care, education, and employment right here in our community.

While this is something to celebrate, recent federal changes and executive orders threaten the ability of some of our newest neighbors to reunite with family members who are still living abroad in refugee camps.

  • A recent executive order allowing states and municipalities to opt out of resettlement continues to create a culture of mistrust and can send a message that refugees are not welcome in our communities.
  • No more than 18,000 refugees will be admitted to the U.S. this year, down from 110,000 in 2017. This is an all-time low in the history of refugee resettlement in the U.S.
  • A week-by-week moratorium on all refugee resettlement in late 2019 meant CMC went without resettlement revenue for nearly three months.
  • The recent expansion of the 2017 travel ban restricts immigrant visas for individuals from six additional countries, preventing some clients at CMC from reuniting with their families.

Mother and child reunited

In the face of this unpredictability and uncertainty, individual giving is more important than ever. Will you take a stand for the dignity of our neighbors, here and abroad, and give?

While changes to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program are out of our control, you can bolster the educational and supportive services available to all CMC clients—refugees, immigrants, adult learners, and women experiencing crisis. Together, we can work together for an inclusive community in these volatile times.

With hope,

Give button

Paula Land signature

Paula Land
Executive Director

P.S.  Setting up a monthly gift offers hope and opportunity to our neighbors all year long.

Coronavirus Preparedness: Keeping CMC Healthy

CoronavirusAs the coronavirus continues to spread, CMC asks all clients, volunteers, and staff to take reasonable precaution to prevent further spread of the virus. By taking the following proactive steps, we ensure that volunteers, staff, adult learners, women healing from crisis, immigrants, and refugees can stay healthy and continue working together for an inclusive community!

March 23, 2020 update: All volunteers are encouraged to stay home to remain safe and healthy. Clients wishing to meet with staff are asked to call ahead and schedule an appointment. In-kind donations are limited to non-perishable food items and sanitizing supplies until further notice.

March 16, 2020 update: The Catherine McAuley Center Education Program has suspended all classes. Classes will resume Monday, April 13.

Symptoms of COVID-19

May be characterized by mild or severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or runny nose. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Guidelines for volunteers, clients and visitors

  • If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, please do not come to CMC until you are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines like cough suppressants.
  • Volunteers and clients who are ill will be sent home.
  • CMC advises all who are sick to stay home, avoid public areas, limit contact from others (and pets), and seek medical advice.
  • If you have a sick family member at home or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, please do not come to CMC until consulting your physician for advice on precautionary measures.
  • Those at higher risk for adverse health complications should use their best judgement about staying home until the threat of COVID-19 passes.
  • Please contact CMC staff if you are unsure about what to do or if you will not be coming in during your scheduled time.

Recommended Hygiene Practices

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available). Throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a disinfecting spray or wipe.
    • Avoid sharing personal household items
    • Shaking hands is discouraged and can easily be replaced with a smile (but smiles are also contagious!)
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks are recommended if you are sick and MUST be around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Additional Preventative Measures at CMC

  • A sign will be posted at the CMC entrance asking those who are sick not to enter.
  • Off-site classes will continue. Staff will equip these locations with sanitation products.
  • Treats will no longer be served in the lobby.
  • Staff will be disinfecting tables, door knobs, and other surfaces several times daily.

Thank you for helping us keep all clients, volunteers, staff, and visitors at CMC safe and healthy!

Volunteer Appreciation: Rose Mary

Through all stages of life, the conventional wisdom is to make a plan and follow it carefully. Whether it be college, a career, a big move, even a vacation – take calculated steps to get there. While this is usually very sound advice, in some cases not having a plan can end up leading you to the right place. This was the case for Rose Mary, a long time CMC volunteer that has been involved at the Center since 2008. 

“They always said ‘Before you’re retired you should be sure you know what you want to do,’” Rose Mary said, “Well I retired and I didn’t know what I wanted to do!” 

After retiring from Rockwell Collins and trying to find a way to fill her days, Rose Mary took a chance on a program that pointed retirees towards volunteer opportunities, and she eventually decided on the Catherine McAuley Center. Rose Mary has volunteered all over the Center since she first started, helping out with things such as filing, stuffing letters, preparing our event invitations for mailing, and managing CMC’s scrapbooks that are viewed at our Annual Celebration. Some of her jobs, like preparing tea bags, are a testament to how long she’s been helping out. 

“I started as a tea lady, did you know they used to sell a lot of tea?” she asked, before discussing some of the highlights from her first years at CMC.

“It was a whole group of us around the table in the sunroom. We had to tear these little bags apart and put a teaspoon of tea in there and iron them shut. I did that for a couple years, and that was fun because we always said ‘Whatever’s said in the tea room stays in the tea room!’”

Rose Mary has seen plenty of change during her years at the Center, most notably the increasing amount of people and the decreasing amount of free space as we approach the long-awaited move into a larger building. 

“We just keep getting more and more people!” she said as we discussed the move this summer, “The basement used to just be the basement, but they had to fix that up to make room for more people, so it just keeps growing.”

Besides the ever-growing need for space, one of the most common talking points about the Catherine McAuley Center is the feeling of welcome when you step inside. There are friendly faces around every corner, which plays a large role in keeping volunteers like Rose Mary coming back for so many years. 

“Everyone always says thank you. I feel like I put smiles on people’s faces. That’s what’s kept me coming back– the people. I don’t remember ever leaving in a bad mood, I’ve always felt better.”

English Classes with Raining Rose

Raining Rose facilityIn October 2019, CMC was offered a unique opportunity to partner with Raining Rose and expand our education services outside of the Center. Raining Rose is a manufacturer of personal care products based in Cedar Rapids, as well as a consistent employer of immigrants and refugees, some of whom have settled in the area through CMC’s services. Due to language barriers in the workplace, Raining Rose reached out about a partnership that would involve on-site English classes for their employees – a need CMC is uniquely equipped to meet! 

Angie Miller, our Tutor Student Liaison, has been teaching at Raining Rose since the beginning of the program in October. She teaches classes on site on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 and 3 p.m. to accommodate both first and second shift workers. This is one of the many advantages of this partnership – it offers even more flexibility for students to coordinate classes around their busy work schedules.

Angie Miller

Tutor Student Liaison, Angie Miller, shares a sample of one of her lessons for students

There are plenty of familiar faces, between employees who have previously used CMC’s Refugee & Immigrant Services and others who have sought out additional English lessons at the Center or one of our satellite locations. Angie says that building relationships with her students and other employees has been one of the most notable highlights, along with the opportunity to get consistent teaching experience.

Unlike the one-on-one tutoring sessions offered at the Center, Angie’s classes can include up to ten students at a time. The results have been just as noticeable, however, even though classes have only been taking place for a few months. Angie says that she has been approached by multiple Raining Rose employees who have noticed an increase in clear, confident communication from her students. 

Raining Rose has been the Center’s first partnership like this, and will hopefully be the first of many. Language barriers can be a common obstacle for immigrants and refugees as they look for employment, but there are always solutions to be found. CMC will be looking for more partnership and outreach opportunities, as well as looking forward to continuing our work with Raining Rose.

Safety and Security in Women’s Services

Women’s Services at the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) provide shelter, intensive case management, and skill-building opportunities to help women who have experienced trauma achieve and maintain stable housing, relationships, and finances.

When a woman begins participating in Women’s Services at CMC, she is welcomed into a room of her own. She’ll see her bed made with a handmade quilt handcrafted by a caring volunteer, and a basket of toiletries and food waiting for her. Perhaps most importantly, she’s given a key. 

“Having my own space with a locked door makes me feel safe. I came from a shelter where I shared a room with five people and anyone could go through your things,” explained one resident. “On my first day in the program, I remember the smiles from the staff. They showed me my room, the locked windows, locked doors, security cameras, and the phone to get a hold of on-call staff. I feel safe because of the things we can control.”

That sense of security is no small thing to the women who are healing from trauma. However, security alone is not the end goal. Survivors of domestic violence and trauma deserve to thrive, and a sense of safety is just the start.

“Having a safe place to live is a big stress reliever. I don’t have to worry about where I have to lay my head at night, with all the other things going on in my life. If you’re not in a safe place, how will you have a job? Take care of yourself? Your mental health? Relationships? You can’t take care of anything if you don’t have a safe place to live. It’s so much more than a bed.”

The Catherine McAuley Center is much more than just a roof. Freed from concerns about where to stay, their next meal, and other basic needs, residents are able to dive into their next chapter. Each woman meets weekly with a case manager to set and work toward individualized goals. Residents also attend other therapeutic and skill-building group learning opportunities throughout the week like cooking classes, sessions on self-esteem and codependency, and workshops on scheduling positive activities for the weekend.

Residential kitchen

Volunteers gather in the Women’s Services kitchen

As a female-responsive program, the opportunity to build strong relationships with other residents is a key component of life at the Center. Even the facilities have been updated to better promote relationship-building; a community-supported renovation in 2014 expanded the program’s small, enclosed, galley kitchen into an open gathering space where residents cook together and share meals on Friday evenings.

“I feel safer and more at home here than I ever have. We’re like a family. If anything happens, there’s someone right next to you. We’re not alone.”

Those relationships with other women only strengthen the sense of safety, helping residents see their own resilience and strengths. The Center also maintains positive relationships between residents and staff by offering trauma-informed care.

These are things that set the Catherine McAuley Center apart – there is structure, but both clients and staff remain cognizant of choice. Beyond regular meetings with case managers and in group learning opportunities, the women here are equipped to make choices about everything in their lives. They are held to their own expectations and goals that they set upon arrival, and given the tools to better understand the challenges they face.

“My understanding of safety has changed. It used to mean not getting beat up. Now it means being able to express my thoughts, feelings, and opinions as a human being, as a woman. To be able to make my own decisions, get input on those decisions, and to have choices. It’s the safest I ever felt in my life.”

Refugee Child Care Program Businesses Opening

Refugees coming to the United States are faced with an array of overlapping challenges – finding a new home, new sources of income, access to transportation, schooling, and child care for their children – all while working through newfound cultural and linguistic barriers. The Catherine McAuley Center’s Refugee and Immigrant Services seek to offer an all-encompassing solution to many of these challenges, while at the same time addressing Iowa’s growing need for child care through the Refugee Child Care Business Development Program. To provide some context here, the deficit in child care spaces exceeded 24,000 in Linn County at the beginning of 2019, when considering all children under the age of twelve. 

In October 2018, the Catherine McAuley Center received a grant from the United States Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to begin training refugees who have been in the country for five years or less to run their own in-home child care businesses. While the specific training services are offered through Iowa Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R), CMC connects clients with the necessary agencies and offers interpretation services throughout the training process. More recently, the Iowa Women’s Foundation has offered additional funding to the program in order to provide the same opportunities for refugees that have been in the United States for more than five years.

The CCR&R training sessions typically take six months to complete, and they thoroughly cover health and safety, CPR and first aid, and mandatory reporting required by DHS. Additionally, business training and English for child care are provided through CMC, which can also help refugees grow their business outside of their own circles. 

The Refugee Child Care Programs first training session attracted coverage from several local media outlets.

One of CMC’s clients who participated in the first cohort, Julienne, has recently turned her home into a full-time child care business. As a mother herself, she says this program has offered her the opportunity to accommodate her own needs while also helping others. Julienne is able to stay at home with her own young children while also taking in 4-5 others on a daily basis, covering both first and second shift – which is a huge benefit for families that don’t work around a 9-5 schedule. For Julienne, this means full-time work and a consistent salary, while also offering a flexible, multicultural child care opportunity for other families. Issues of scheduling and linguistically- and culturally- appropriate care are often overlooked, but can be critical for refugee families.

Julienne’s cohort began training in May 2019. Eight participants completed training, with five going on to start their own child care businesses. The second cohort started training in October 2019 with seven participants, several of whom are expected to open their own Family Child Care (FCC) businesses by April 2020. Between the first two cohorts and a partner organization in Iowa City, a total of seventeen refugees have completed training and registration – and that doesn’t take into account  a third cohort that is set to begin training this year. At the beginning of the program, the projected outcomes included having 38 participants complete the Child Development Home (CDH) registration process, 36 participants establish FCC businesses, and for all participants to increase their household income by 50% after six months. As the program nears its halfway point, these projected numbers are nearing their respective halfway points as well.

The ultimate goal is sustainability beyond the end of the program, and seeing each business turn into full time work with reliable income. At the end of three years, we hope to see 144 new child care spaces open! While this may seem like a small amount compared to the need, this is a significant number for one community – especially for a program with plans to keep expanding. With the right training and resources, the Refugee Child Care Business Development Program can offer refugees long-term solutions to the challenges that they face, and business opportunities that benefit our entire community.

Response to Governor Abbott’s Refusal to Resettle Refugees in Texas

By Caleb Gates, Refugee Case Manager and Advocacy Specialist

The Catherine McAuley Center strongly condemns Governor Abbott’s decision to refuse to allow new refugees to resettle in Texas. Governor Abbott’s decision to reject refugees was enabled by President Trump’s executive order which allows governors or local officials to forbid new refugees from being resettled in that state or locality. President Trump argues that allowing state and local governments to refuse refugees is necessary to protect national security and improve local control, but this executive order is cruel and likely to be unlawful.

Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and they come to this country because they had a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country due to who they are or what they believe. These refugees had to flee their own country to protect themselves. They want safety, freedom, and the chance to build a life for themselves and their children. Forbidding refugees from being resettled in Texas is cruel and unnecessary. 

The refugee resettlement process is effective and safe. Every refugee is thoroughly screened and vetted before arriving in the United States. This was the case under President Obama and previous administrations. Since 1980, more than 3 million refugees have come to this country and during that time, no American citizen was killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee. A refugee is far less likely to commit a crime than someone born in the United States. These refugees have enhanced our country, our culture, and our economy. 

The Refugee Act of 1980 gives authority on implementation of refugee resettlement to Congress and the federal government, not state and local governments. While the President has the authority to determine the number of refugees allowed into the country each year, the law does not allow the President to delegate veto power to state and local governments over refugee resettlement.  President Trump claims this change was needed to protect national security, the same argument that the President used to implement the 2017 travel ban, which banned people from several Muslim-majority countries. This legal authority undermines President Trump’s executive order because if banning refugees is a matter of national security, then states and local governments cannot ban refugees because states and local governments have no authority over matters of national security. In this instance, Governor Abbott is overriding local control because the mayors of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio have all given their endorsement to continue refugee resettlement in those cities. 

The argument for local control as a basis for vetoing refugee resettlement recalls shameful chapters in the history of our country. Before and during the Civil Rights era, the local control argument was used to allow state and local governments to protect segregation of black Americans from white Americans. At many points in our history, going back to at least the early 1800s, state and local governments used local control to prevent or restrict immigrants from settling within those jurisdictions or denying full civil and civic rights to those groups.

As of this writing, a Federal judge has temporarily blocked Governor Abbott’s order from going into effect while litigation is pending. We applaud this temporary injunction and we encourage the courts to overrule President Trump’s executive order. Refugee resettlement benefits Texas, just as it benefits Iowa. Refugee resettlement benefits our culture and our economy.

We applaud Governor Reynolds, as well as leaders of Linn, Johnson, Black Hawk, Louisa, Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties for their consent and continued support of refugee resettlement here in Iowa. Such support exemplifies Iowa’s commitment to being a welcoming state and upholding the best of ideals of what it means to be American.

Volunteer Appreciation: Myrna

A sense of community is something to be cherished. As people, we seek out those connections and interactions that make us feel truly human and more in tune with the people around us. Volunteer tutor Myrna Loehrlein, who has enjoyed tutoring at CMC for the past eleven years, shared that the connections she’s made through working with students is high on the list of reasons that she’s stayed with us for so long!

Myrna teaches basic learning skills to adults at the Center as a volunteer tutor. Some of these students are learning how to read for the first time in any language, and others are learning English. No matter a student’s background, Myrna’s ability to teach is bolstered by her remarkable background in child education. While teaching itself can be infinitely rewarding, Myrna says one of her favorite aspects of tutoring and being at CMC is the interactions that she gets to have. Myrna states that she feels “not only appreciated, but respected,” and has “never had a student who was grumpy!” According to Myrna, seeing students achieve their goals is always something to be celebrated, but it is the connection between student and tutor forged in the hours of study that is most meaningful. “The things that are really most encouraging aren’t necessarily student achievements but a sense that even if there isn’t a really an identifiable student achievement, there’s something important going on. You know that all of us here are complete people,” she continues, “We want to be serious and we want to learn but we understand that the heart of us needs to be taken care of.”  And that is exactly what Myrna, and the hundreds of other volunteers at CMC, do each day. 

The community at CMC is one that is built on connection. It is a place that places a premium on respect and understanding of one another. Each person, whether entering our doors as a compassionate teacher or an eager learner, is appreciated for the unique strengths they bring to our community. At CMC, all will find that the passion to connect with and care for others is shared among our staff and volunteers; a passion we believe to be truly exceptional. Thank you, Myrna – for a great conversation, all of the work you do here, and contributing to the good spirit of the Center!

We began this series on our volunteers to shine a light on just some of the hundreds of people that give their time and talents to contribute to CMC.  Follow along to get to know more of our volunteers who are working together for an inclusive community at CMC!

Q & A with Sarah Blakeney

We’re excited to welcome Sarah Blakeney, as the Employment Services Coordinator to the Catherine McAuley Center team! Get to know Sarah and the employment services CMC has to
offer!

Q: Sarah, tell us a bit about your background.

A: I am originally from Virginia and moved to Cedar Rapids right after Thanksgiving of last year (2018). Before that, I served in the Peace Corps in Morocco for two years. While there I was also working on my Master’s in Public Anthropology, conducting research on experiences accessing healthcare in several small towns and villages in the southeastern part of the country. My service also included doing pretty much whatever my community needed help with, including English clubs and classes and job readiness.

Q: What was it that drew you to this position at CMC? Why help with employment?

A: I was drawn to CMC because I knew I wanted to work with a non-profit. I had taken a class about the refugee experience and conducted a needs-based analysis with Nepali Bhutanese refugees during undergrad, so being able to serve that population was a big draw. I believe employment is such an important part of becoming self-sufficient and can give people a sense of freedom as well as inclusion into a new society and culture.

Q: How do you go about supporting refugees and immigrants in their employment goals?

A: My job involves everything from meeting with employers to teaching clients what the
American workforce looks like. I meet one-on-one with clients to talk about what their
employment goals are, create an email address and resume, and identify job opportunities that fit their needs. I also work with clients enrolled in the Matching Grant program, which serves refugees who have arrived within the past 30 days with extra employment support in order for them to reach self-sufficiency by 120-180 days after their arrival. Additionally, I hold Job Club every Friday, which is a 5-week program that discusses many different aspects of the American workforce. I meet with employers’ HR or recruiting teams to get a better understanding of their hiring needs and ways we can support them and overcome any barriers that might prevent our clients from being able to successfully work there.

Q: What are some highlights from your interactions with employers so far? What other types of employers would you like to work with?

A: So far, I have really enjoyed working with Kirkwood Community College, The Hotel at
Kirkwood, and Raining Rose. These and other employers have been very open and welcoming to our clients and motivated to find ways to break down employment barriers. I am open to developing and strengthening relationships with area employers but finding organizations in Iowa City and Waterloo in order to better serve the clients we resettle there is at the top of my list.

Q: What benefits do refugees and immigrants bring to the table as employees?

A: Refugees and immigrants are resilient and motivated to provide for their families. If they were living in refugee camps, they might not have had the opportunity to work and support themselves and overall, they just want to become self-reliant. Most of our clients also speak multiple languages and are able to find ways to communicate and problem solve cross-culturally. They have had to adapt to a whole new culture and that experience can help them be successful in any work environment.