Monthly Archives: May 2012

Who is an AmeriCorps VISTA?

As members of the Refugee Support Network, each of us serves a year-long term (at minimum) as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects more than 70,000 Americans each year with service positions to meet our country’s critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment. AmeriCorps members serve with nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based and community organizations, and since 1994, more than 400,000 men and women have provided needed assistance to millions of Americans across the nation through their AmeriCorps service. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a division of AmeriCorps where members leverage human, financial, and material resources to increase the capacity of low-income communities across the country to solve their own problems.

For more information about the AmeriCorps program visit http://www.americorps.gov/ .

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Lauren

Lauren Klein

Youth Programs Coordinator

Somali Community Services Coalition

As the Somali Community Services Coalition’s Youth Programs Coordinator, Lauren coordinates the After-School Homework Help Program for K-12 and the Summer Adventures Program for 6 to 13-year-olds. She also coordinates and recruits volunteer tutors for the youth programs, conducts resource development for the youth programs, and assists in resource development for the organization as a whole.

Lauren is originally from Massachusetts, but has lived in Michigan for the last decade. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a master’s in Social Work, focusing on community organizing and management of human resources. Her main social work focus is in youth empowerment through art with international populations. She absolutely loves the outdoors and activities like hiking, camping, and anything in the woods or water, and that’s what attracted her to the Pacific Northwest. Lauren loves to travel, and one of her favorite things in life is to explore new places and cultures!

Somali Community Services Coalition http://www.somalicsc.org/

The mission of the Somali Community Services Coalition (SCSC) is to enhance and improve the well-being and quality of life of Somali families and individuals while maintaining the cultural heritage of the Somali community. SCSC was founded in 1995 by a group of Somali refugees who recognized the need for social services among the Somali community in King County. SCSC provides a variety of social services including: immigration and employment assistance, parent-school connection workshops, advocacy, interpretation, and translation services, conflict mediation services, legal and medical referrals, and job assistance services. In addition, SCSC coordinates four tutoring programs throughout King County. Through these diverse programs and services and our partnerships with other organizations, we hope to meet the equally diverse needs of our community.

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Nicola

Nicola Crawford

Refugee School Impact Grant VISTA Member

School’s Out Washington

As a VISTA Member at School’s Out Washington, Nicola is working on compiling resources to support Refugee School Impact Grant grantees. She specifically focuses on resource development materials and compiling orientation materials for newcomer families and youth to the school system.

A Puget Sound native with a B.A. in Peace Studies from Whitworth University, Nicola feels VISTA is a great opportunity to continue working in the community. “Following a year working as an AmeriCorps member at an afterschool program in SeaTac and a year teaching English in Kenya, it’s great to be working as a part of the Refugee Support Network. School’s Out Washington has been a great learning opportunity, and it’s good to be working back in my home community.”

When not working, Nicola likes being outdoors, especially when that involves mountains, water or trees . . . which is why she loves the Pacific Northwest.

School’s Out Washington http://www.schoolsoutwashington.org

School’s Out Washington (SOWA) was founded in 1987, and the organization’s history reflects the emergence and development of the afterschool and youth development (AYD) professional field. SOWA’s mission, vision, and values reflect a deep commitment to the advancement of the AYD field, the individuals who work in the field, and the children, youth, families, and communities served by the field.  SOWA administers Washington State’s Refugee School Impact Grant, which supports school systems statewide impacted by significant numbers of refugee children and youth, ages 5-18, in the country three years or less.

Check out their blog at http://schoolsoutwashington.wordpress.com/.

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JT

J.T. Kendall

Resource Development

Jewish Family Service

J.T. Kendall is in his second year serving at Jewish Family Service’s Refugee & Immigrant Service Centers, located in Kent and Bellevue, WA. He coordinates the volunteer programs, recruiting and training community members as mentors, tutors, interns, and other roles. He also manages the donations program, ensuring that arriving families have furnished homes, and works with the Kent community to create a welcoming atmosphere for the families.

J.T. gained an interest in immigration and refugee matters starting with his study of Latin America and Economics at the University of Richmond. Following college, he lived and worked in Brazil and spent time with the Welcoming Center in West Philadelphia. He also shares a personal connection as half of his family were refugees from Indonesia during World War II.

Jewish Family Service: Refugee and Immigrant Service Center http://www.jfsseattle.org/refugee.html

Jewish Family Service of Seattle began in 1892 with the sole purpose of resettling Eastern European and Sephardic Jewish refugees. Today, JFS supports the adjustment and employment of refugees and immigrants from all religions and cultures world wide, including Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. With our many social service programs like financial assistance, ESL, citizenship classes, and job placement – we help new American families become fully integrated members of our community.

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Yvette

Yvette Sumner

AmeriCorps VISTA Leader

Refugee Support Network

Yvette serves as VISTA Leader for the Refugee Support Network, providing support and training for Refugee Support Network VISTA members and building the capacity of the project. She was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and danced professionally for three years at Raleigh’s Carolina Ballet before earning a B.A. in English at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also has a master’s degree in Nineteenth-Century Literature from The University of York in the United Kingdom. Yvette spent the past year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Feeding America Southwest Virginia Food Bank in Abingdon, VA, serving as the Abingdon branch’s product coordinator and volunteer recruiter.

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Traci

Traci Wilson

Community Relations & Development VISTA

International Rescue Committee

As the Community Relations & Development VISTA at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Traci assists in volunteer recruitment and management and coordinating outreach and community events to raise awareness of the IRC. She also maintains the IRC in Seattle’s webpage and Facebook page. Traci is from Sacramento, California, and studied psychology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. She loves traveling and has been to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, England, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands, but wants to see the world in its entirety. She volunteered at the IRC before becoming a VISTA. Traci loves being outside, especially at Seattle’s Green Lake, and also loves reading classic books.

International Rescue Committee  http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-seattle-wa

Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) serves refugees and communities victimized by oppression or violent conflict worldwide. In addition to helping refugees in crisis areas around the world, the IRC operates resettlement offices throughout the United States. The IRC Seattle was established in 1976 and provides the services and support needed to assist over 550 newly resettled refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking each year. Through direct case management the IRC helps families and individuals rebuild their lives and become independent and involved members of the community. IRC Seattle empowers refugees to achieve self sufficiency through a variety of services such as: safe and affordable housing, access to health and social services, school enrollment, opportunities to learn English, and employment counseling to help find a job and succeed in the workplace.

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Denis

Denis Rajić

Educational Services VISTA

International Rescue Committee

At the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Denis is in charge of expanding the IRC’s educational services, which include ESL classes, pre-employment classes, and citizenship tutoring. Denis was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and became a refugee at the age of two. His family was resettled by the IRC as refugees in 1998 after living in Italy for six years. He is glad to give back to the organization that has helped his family and community. Denis studied International Studies at the University of Washington and hopes to go further into international relations. He loves soccer and basketball.

International Rescue Committee  http://www.rescue.org/us-program/us-seattle-wa

Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) serves refugees and communities victimized by oppression or violent conflict worldwide. In addition to helping refugees in crisis areas around the world, the IRC operates resettlement offices throughout the United States. The IRC Seattle was established in 1976 and provides the services and support needed to assist over 550 newly resettled refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking each year. Through direct case management the IRC helps families and individuals rebuild their lives and become independent and involved members of the community. IRC Seattle empowers refugees to achieve self sufficiency through a variety of services such as: safe and affordable housing, access to health and social services, school enrollment, opportunities to learn English, and employment counseling to help find a job and succeed in the workplace.

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John

John Argerious

Resource Development Coordinator

East African Community Services

John joined AmeriCorps VISTA in July 2012 and is working as the Resource Development Coordinator for East African Community Services (EACS). At EACS John is working to improve the sustainability and capacity of the organization by coordinating projects, writing grants, and creating partnerships with other organizations and agencies. Some of his current projects include building an African business association, coordinating a senior needs assessment, organizing health and nutrition workshops, and much more. John has a Master’s of Public and International Affairs focusing in Human Security from the University of Pittsburgh.

East African Community Services  http://www.eastafricancs.org/

East African Community Services (EACS) was established in 2000 to provide culturally specific advocacy, information, referral and direct social services to Somali, Oromo, Ethiopian and other East African refugees living in King County. When civil war erupted in Somalia in 1991, many people fled away from the violence. Today, nearly 30,000 East African refugees have made King County their home. East African Community Services provides a variety of services to members of the East African community in south Seattle, including, but not limited to: homework help and after-school tutoring for children in Primary, Middle and High-School; ESL, Citizenship and Computer Literacy classes for Adults; Case Management and Interpretation/Translation services.

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Introductions – Meet Wuhye

Over the next few days, we’ll be giving you some more insight into who we are and where we work.

Wuhye Chun

Volunteer Program Assistant

Asian Counseling and Referral Service

Wuhye is an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Program Assistant with the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, an organization that empowers Asian communities by providing access to a broad range of social services. She grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. During her studies, she got a chance to study abroad, igniting her interest in different cultures and languages. During this time, she also volunteered at different nonprofits and decided to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.

Asian Counseling and Referral Service  http://www.acrs.org/

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) was founded in 1973 out of a grassroots effort. During that time, Asian Pacific Americans were at risk of misdiagnosis and receiving inappropriate care from service providers unfamiliar with their culture and language. Today, ACRS provides a continuum of services for primarily low-income, immigrant, refugee, American-born Asians and Pacific Islanders through 13 programs.

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Refugee Support Network


Seven agencies, One common goal: Create better lives for refugees and immigrants in King County

Who are we?

We are the members of the Refugee Support Network, a group of AmeriCorps VISTA members who have committed to dedicate a year (or more) to improving service to underserved refugee and immigrant populations in Seattle and King County, Washington. We work as a team, yet serve at one of seven refugee and immigrant social service agencies in King County in an independent capacity.

What do we do?

We use our talents and experience to build the capacity of the organizations where we work. We make connections, coordinate programs, recruit volunteers, raise money, and conduct research in order to help resettle refugees arriving in King County from across the world.

Where do we work?

Why do we do this work?

Our Goal: Create better lives for refugees and immigrants in King County.
We’d like to share our experiences with you as we work toward this goal.

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