By Path of Hope Staff, as told to Sarah Hubbard
Recently, Path of Hope’s RefugeeRISE Americorps members Tyler Scrimager and Jacques Luzindya assisted a family of eight from Congo. When the family first came to us, the parents weren’t working, the mother, who didn’t speak any English, was pregnant, and the kids didn’t have transportation to school. The family also needed help transferring their public assistance to Iowa and completing their vaccinations. Jacques helped find a job for the father. We then connected the mother to employment resources so she could begin working after her pregnancy, and connected her to ESL courses. Both Jacques and Tyler continuously helped the mother with appointments at the hospital for her pregnancy, through the day she gave birth in mid-January. Path of Hope helped the family transfer their benefits to Iowa and helped them complete their vaccinations. Jacques and Tyler both provided transportation for the kids to and from school for months until the family was able to buy a car when they got their tax return in February. Although the family’s case file is now closed, they still keep in contact with Jacques, Tyler, and the rest of the Path of Hope team. The parents have been taking the kids to school now that transportation isn't a problem. One of the children was able to get soccer cleats from the school and joined the soccer team. The father is still working at the job Jacques helped him find, and the mother looks forward to joining the workforce soon.
By Nyamal Deng and Terry Prickett
This spring, The Bridge of Storm Lake held a gardening service day for youth in the community. In the weeks leading up to the event, our team discussed how to create a good learning environment, how to teach the skills we wanted to have youth leave with, and how to build or improve the knowledge participants may already have. Additionally, our team had to learn the skills required before we could pass them on to others. On the day of the event, the youth came in not knowing much about gardening. We used the RefugeeRISE self-assessment tracking tool to give the youth participants a pre and post test about gardening. The growth in knowledge was very notable. At the end of the workshop, everyone who came had at least a ten percent increase in overall understanding of the gardening skills we taught. Many felt prepared to take the knowledge they gained to work on their own projects outside our service day. The gardening service day was a great way for AmeriCorps members to provide youth in the community with marketable workforce skills and a place to have positive social interaction. We have a whole summer of gardening service days in the works - everything from transplanting to weeding to watering to harvesting. We can’t wait to have the project continue and make an impact on the lives of youth in our community.
The “Changing Views on Daughters of Burma” project, lead by the Iowa Women's Foundation and a healthy futures AmeriCorps team at EMBARC's Waterloo office, addressed for the first time gender identity and roles in the Burma community. Navigators completed trainings and a culturally appropriate curriculum was developed and used during learning circles. At learning circles, participants were asked to rate their level of knowledge on each topic before and after the learning circle. Of the 70 participants who attended the learning circles, all but 2 reported an increase in knowledge. Navigators who participated in leadership roles gained confidence in their ability to advocate for others, understand US systems, understand and analyze the construction of gender and its implications, compare social norms, and create change within their communities.
By Katie Splean, as told to Sarah Hubbard
G. was having trouble navigating while living in Cedar Rapids. He found the bus system inconvenient and was accustomed to riding his bike everywhere when he was in Africa. While working with the Catherine McAuley Center, G. was partnered with a case manager. After the pair got to know each other a bit more, G. asked his case manager if there was a way he could get a bike. The Catherine McAuley Center put out a request to the community for a donated bike and was able to find someone who was happy to donate a new bike in honor of her son. G. is now able to ride his bike around the city to meet with business contacts, get to work, shop, and socialize.
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.