RISE & Shine Blog
Hear from our members across the state
On Saturday, March 31st, EMBARC Des Moines' Health Advocate, Lian Puii, and RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member, Moriah Morgan, held a wellness day in partnership with Connections Matter and United Way. An art therapist, yoga instructor, and meditation expert volunteered their time to teach their practices to a group of ten women from the Burma community as a way to cope with stress and trauma. The women enjoyed these activities so much that they have requested that these experts hold workshops with other community groups. All in all a great way to spend a Saturday!
In February, EMBARC's Waterloo office completed their third annual Community Producers Workshop. The workshop was designed to train members of the Burma community on the various aspects of starting, handling, and maintaining a business to help empower participants to sell their own goods and services. The workshop was administered by RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members at EMBARC in partnership with the University of Northern Iowa Center for Environmental Education and the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Thirty members from the Burma community participated in the two week, thirty hour class. Before the class, most attendees knew very little about the various aspects of banking, credit scores, and business in the United States. As a result of this class, attendees reported feeling more confident with cash handling, food safety, and customer service, and 15 participants signed up to work in the community garden and sell their goods during the farmers market. One participant stated that as a result of this class they "... would love to learn more about the farmers' market because I would like to sell products from my country." This month, the program will continue with participants learning how to garden, working together to maintain a community garden, and selling what they grow to local markets and stores.
Over the past few months, Greater Des Moines Partnership's RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members Holly Clark and Bal Budathoki have been working to develop an after school curriculum encouraging sophomores and juniors at Hoover High School in Des Moines to dive deeper into the subjects of career and college preparedness. Each week, students participating in the program learn about furthering their education and career opportunities through guest speakers and hands-on activities.
Holly and Bal reached out to the RefugeeRISE members at EMBARC’s Des Moines office for assistance with a session. RefugeeRISE members Rebecca Chamberlin and Sarah Hubbard jumped at the opportunity to help their fellow host site. In a few hours, they developed a lesson plan to teach the high schoolers about their personalities through the Real Colors test.
Rebecca and Sarah helped students take their personality tests, then had them break into groups to design a poster that would represent their color’s traits. Students then presented to their peers about their color. Following that, students discussed in a large group what type of jobs would be best suited to their personality, and how their personality styles would work with other styles in the workplace.
By Sarah Kraft
On Sunday March 4, 2018, EMBARC Waterloo held a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) clinic to help Burma community members who came to the U.S. from Malaysia apply to receive documents found in their immigration file. The clinic was a huge success thanks to the hard work of many organizations and volunteers! To hold the clinic, EMBARC partnered with Iowa Legal Aid and Catholic Charities to provide legal expertise and supervise the paperwork. The clinic was also made possible because of over 20 volunteers from both the Burma and Iowa communities who came to help fill out the paperwork. In total, we helped 43 clients complete the FOIA paperwork. This great turnout was thanks to the hours my Burma coworkers spend calling community members to explain the clinic and encourage them to attend. I'm so proud to be part of such an awesome team!
By Rebecca Chamberlin
On December 4th, 2017, I successfully matched my first mentor pair in EMBARC’s Des Moines mentoring program. The program matches mentors with a refugee or immigrant client to help them work towards their personal and professional goals. The mentee, named Nu, is a one of
EMBARC’s parent-navigators and applied to our mentoring program because she wanted help
improving her English. Her mentor, Virginia, has had experience teaching English Language Learners classes abroad and teaches ELL classes at a church in Des Moines. The two have been
meeting almost every week since December 4 th , 2017. So far, they have logged over ten hours
together and Virginia says that both Nu’s English and confidence have greatly improved. “I love
Nu’s attitude every time we work together. She patient, positive, but also honest”, says
About the Blog
The service members of RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps have compiled stories of success during their membership. This blog was created with the intent of sharing these valuable stories with the public.