When immigrants or refugees come to the United States, they receive assistance with finding employment, taking language classes, accessing social services, navigating public transportation, and finding housing. However, the people who come into the United States, torn from their home countries by war and adversity, lose their federal eligibility for these services after 3 to 5 short years. What happens when a person still hasn’t learned the language, hasn’t learned to use a computer, hasn’t secured permanent housing, or a job? EACS faces this question every day. Yes, a person can become accustomed to a country, but can they learn how to read and write well enough to fill out paperwork? Can they learn English, reading and writing skills, and computer skills well enough so that they can apply for a job on-line? We at EACS are finding that the answer to these questions is that many people cannot actually access these services. Almost every day, EACS is asked to help a person search for jobs on line, write a cover letter, and/or fill out an on-line application. As much as we try not to turn anyone away from our office, we do not have the capacity to sit with a person and walk them through the process of looking for a job. Many times, we try to direct them to a an organization that can offer them the comprehensive care they really need, but organizations like that are few and far between, or their services are limited to only a few hours per week. Many times, the process of going to Workforce or an unemployment office is terribly bureaucratic that it can feel like getting stuck in a hamster wheel – and the people who come through our doors know this. Can I, in good conscience, refer a person to an organization that even I can hardly get a hold of someone who can answer my questions, even though I’m a fluent English speaker who grew up in U.S. culture! With significant challenges on the path toward establishing a referral system, I will continue in my search to find a service that will help instead of deter the members of the East African community, whom I have grown to so deeply care about.
Brie – East African Community Services