Nancy arrived in the United States in January of 2018 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A mere six months after arriving in the United States, Nancy started as a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member at Path of Hope in Coralville. When she first began her job, Nancy had to overcome a steep learning curve. She did not understand how to use a computer, send emails, or speak English well. However, since working with RefugeeRISE, Nancy has made significant improvement. She has developed both technological and language skills to help complete her service and aid clients in achieving similar success.
Nancy joined AmeriCorps because she loves helping people connect into their new culture. As a recent arrival to the United States, Nancy understands the important steps that refugees need to take in order to integrate into society. When her clients come in to Path of Hope, Nancy stresses the importance of signing up for ESL courses because she understands the value of knowing English in the United States. Nancy spends her week helping clients obtain employment. She supports them in their job search, helps them apply to different positions, and obtains transportation for them to attend interviews. She also helps clients apply for food stamps, school programs, cash benefits, Medicaid, and ESL classes. One of her favorite parts of the job is watching her clients progress from the application process to obtaining successful employment. She loves receiving the call that one of her clients has been accepted for a position.
During her time at RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps, Nancy has shown admirable commitment to her position. She sometimes spends long hours helping clients. Once, Nancy left everything she was working on to drive a client to the hospital. She spent nine hours at the hospital with the client, arriving to her college course an hour late in order to help the client for as long as possible.
So far, Nancy has taken on 15 regular clients that she serves each week. She continues to improve at her job and her English skills. In addition to her service at Path of Hope, Nancy is taking English classes in the evenings. Nancy values being a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member because of the value the program places on her own personal development, an aspect she would not receive if at home or working elsewhere. When her position becomes challenging, Nancy now knows to ask her fellow service members for help. However, Nancy has continued to become more self-sufficient as she helps the refugee community in Coralville do the same.
On a snowy morning in November, RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members in Coralville were helping make the Thanksgiving season a bit brighter for their community. For their “Day of Thanks” event, RefugeeRISE members at Path of Hope prepared food baskets that individuals could use to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for their family. The baskets were filled with many different food items, such as pork loins, hamburger patties, filet mignon, sirloin steaks, eggs, acorn squash, chicken, cereal, bread, perishables, spinach, kale, strawberries, cottage cheese, or sandwiches.
Path of Hope decorated an empty room in their office building with Thanksgiving-themed tablecloths, balloons, and streamers. From 9 AM until noon, many RefugeeRISE members handed out food from 9 in the morning until noon to 138 individuals from 31 families who had braved the cold to attend the event.
Susan Shultz, a RefugeeRISE member at Path of Hope who helped lead this project, estimates that at least $6000 dollars worth of food was distributed. During the two weeks leading up to the event, Susan helped to coordinate food donations, obtain thrift store vouchers, and made food at the event for the individuals that visited. RefugeeRISE members at Path of Hope had also compiled information about different services in the area that attendees could use during the holiday season. Susan describes that it was a “beautiful” event and a wonderful way to “give thanks for [their] clients.”
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.