“That showing of a friendly face every week, … keeps me going and keeps me positive. “
Hi, my name is Taylor Jenkins, I work here at the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore. The International Rescue Committee is an international nonprofit. Domestically we focus on refugee resettlement but internationally we focus on conflict zones, war zones, and providing aid. Here its more long term and upwards of about 6-8 months. We umm work with clients umm with case working and connecting with different organizations out in the community to help them get on there feet.
So the branch of the IRC that I work with is the community outreach branch, more specifically, the volunteer branch. Umm which we connect our client with volunteers in the community to work for about 6 months, you know meeting once a week for about three hours, working on ESL skills and also you know, just being another friendly face to them in the city. Volunteers are extremely important to the IRC. This place would completely fall without them. Our in house interns are here for about 3 months working with each department. We have volunteers here to supplement a lot of the work that the interns, the caseworkers and other staff do. A lot of our in house volunteers help us out in the resettlement shop where a lot of our clients go and get free donated items. They can get about 15 a day per client. And we also have volunteers that work with our clients outside of the office in our mentor program.
One of the things that we are trying to do in the future is to umm you know, make sure that our clients are first off, getting back on there feet. We would like for them to you knowing, starting having a stake in the city themselves buying homes and starting businesses. So uhh for my position what I like to do is connect a lot of out volunteers with our staff members here. SO for example if a case member needs a family mentor to help writing some sort of application for some kind of job lead that they found them or if they need to help sift through the medical system here umm something that they are probably foreign to the mentors will supplement that work.
What I try to do is get them connected with the case worker then the case worker will get them connected to whatever outside resource hat they need to be connected with. And we do work with a lot of the Central Americans here from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, but a lot of those cases are worked with immigration for family reunification, which is called Central American affidavit of relationship. What happens is you know, a family will come and apply to be reunited with a loved one from one of those countries and once its approved and okayed their flown here and reunited with their family member. Were seeing that there’s been a growth of populations here in Highlandtown so there’s definitely a big influx of Central American populations. SO what we do is we establish partnerships with apartment complexes around the city, set them up before the clients arrive here with a lot of the donations that we receive. And as soon as they get there they get picked up by a caseworker that there working with and they get brought to the apartment complex shown around and placed into their new home.
The most satisfaction is kind of what I’ll be doing after this is meeting with clients introducing them to new volunteers, just knowing that extra person, that extra connection will be you know, somewhat of a stress relief. Cuz you know when your new here you want to engage and meet people and things like that, you don’t want there to be such a big wall between you and your neighbors. And unfortunately there is a big wall of not having the fluency of English. So those volunteers come in completely you know as a resource to the clients, but also as a friend as well and they come every week. So that consistency, that showing of a friendly face every week, you know just knowing that kind of keeps me going and keeps me positive.