Meet Ken Briggs
Dear Friends and Partners,
This fall marks the end of one fiscal year and the beginning of another. As I reflect on the past year, I am struck by the tremendous growth and transformation of our office. At this time last year, we were awarded $1 million from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to increase mental health and well-being services for refugees in Pima County. With this funding, the IRC Center for Well-Being was established, and our staff of two increased to a team of six. We underwent the monumental ordeal of moving to a new space. I can't help but grin when I walk around the office and see staff focused on advocating for our clients and the community engaged in our work. On any given day, our lobby is full with refugees and their children talking and playing together, our community partners at informational tables providing our clients with on-site access to their services, and volunteers running yoga class or job readiness training.
While this past year was full of progress, we also faced significant challenges. Over 100 families walked through our doors seeking emergency assistance to keep them from becoming homeless. For too long, it was taking from eight months to a year for some to find a job. Now we are seeing improvements, both in the economy and employer readiness to hire, but also in our own services. I am thankful I live in Tucson among so many generous and welcoming neighbors. Despite economic hardships, our donors are giving more than ever before, and our volunteers continue to be dedicated and hard working partners. Employers, who value loyalty and diligence, are eager to hire refugees when they can.
This coming fiscal year we expect to resettle about 325 new refugees - families from Bhutan, Eritrea and Somalia, and several other countries as well as individuals from Iraq and Afghanistan who are seeking safety after having served as interpreters for the US military. We have begun to identify specific strategies to improve the quality of our services and are investigating sustainable solutions to help refugees become thriving Americans. As I look forward to another year of strengthening and growth, I want to express my deepest appreciation for your support. Our work would not be possible without you.