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COVID-19 update & how you can help

Many IRC program participants, such as those in our senior empowerment program, need extra support due to the COVID-19 outbreak in our community - and you can help!

Photo: Gillian Peckham/IRC

Starting Friday, March 13th and until further notice, the IRC will close our office in SeaTac and all staff will work remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak in King County. The IRC will continue to serve our clients while the physical office is closed. In fact, many families need our support now more than ever – and you can help!

Join us Thursday, 4/9 at noon for a Virtual Town Hall, where we'll discuss COVID-19 impacts on Western Washington's refugee & immigrant communities, the IRC's response efforts, and how you can support our newest neighbors during this challenging time. Register here.

How are refugees & survivors impacted and what is IRC doing to help?

Supporting people at higher risk for COVID-19

Many IRC clients are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19 (for example, people who are elderly or with serious health conditions). One of our first priorities is ensuring people at higher risk for the illness have the information and resources they need to stay healthy. IRC case managers are providing individualized, lingistically-appropriate outreach to all clients, so they understand COVID-19, how to contact their doctor, and how to keep their families safe. We are also creating health & hygiene kits for families at higher risk, as well as stocking up our emergency food pantry.

Helping families impacted by layoffs, hiring freezes, and leaves of absence

Many IRC clients work in industries being hit hardest by COVID-19, including hospitality, food service, airports/airlines, and others. Many IRC clients have already been laid off and refugees who have just arrived in the U.S. do not have access to much-needed jobs due to hiring freezes. Many of the people we serve at IRC do not qualify for unemployment benefits or the cash payments included in the most recent federal stimulus package. This means many families will need IRC's support with rent, utilities, and other basic needs until hiring freezes are lifted.

Making up for reduced access to essential services   

IRC clients are disproportionately impacted as essential services are suspended or moved online. When services can only be accessed online, for example, they become more difficult for people who don't own computers or do not speak English to access. When schools and daycare centers close, IRC clients often do not have other options for childcare and may be put in a position of missing work to care for their children. There will be many cascading impacts of this outbreak over the weeks and months to come, which will result in our clients needing increased help from IRC. Please note that IRC staff continue to provide individualized case management support to clients, even while the physical office is closed. We are also helping clients adjust to changes to our programming by offering things like home study packets for students in our youth programs and remote mentoring for youth and adults. 

How can I help?

  1. Donate to the IRC’s emergency fund. Already, many IRC clients have been impacted by quarantines, reductions in public services, and layoffs & hiring freezes. Help us ensure newcomers have the resources and services they need to get through this trying time.
  2. Donate via IRC's Amazon wishlist much-needed hygiene, health, and food items.
  3. Spread facts, not stigma. Misinformation can create fear and hostility that hurts people and makes it harder to keep everyone healthy. Access anti-stigma resources to read and share with your community!