As the weather turns cold and snow falls in New Jersey, the IRC’s office in Elizabeth is busy securing warm clothes and blankets for families in need. The staff’s hands-on service of refugees, asylees, and immigrants in New Jersey makes the IRC uniquely aware of the immediate and evolving needs of those we serve. The IRC in NJ’s emergency fund empowers staff to quickly and effectively address the most pressing needs of client families, from school needs to disaster recovery.
The IRC in NJ’s emergency fund enables IRC caseworkers to assist our most vulnerable refugee, asylee, and immigrant families. In the past year, the emergency fund has supported the following acute needs in our New Jersey Community:
- Just months after arriving in New Jersey, 2 families from Democratic Republic of Congo and a family from Sri Lanka saw their new homes disappear in an apartment building fire. The IRC in NJ’s emergency fund helped these families pay for temporary shelter and for some relocation costs when new apartments were located.
- A refugee arrived in New Jersey after being tortured by the Syrian government and fleeing to a neighboring country. The IRC connected M. with a pro-bono psychologist experienced in serving survivors of torture and refugee trauma and used the emergency fund to cover the costs of Arabic interpretation and transportation to and from these critical services.
- A Sudanese refugee commutes weekly from Elizabeth to his job in Pennsylvania. When his family member unexpectedly moved out of the apartment, I. was left with a $600 per month rent balance he could not afford. The IRC in NJ’s emergency fund helped the family avoid eviction until they could make alternative housing arrangements.
- At the start of the school year, the IRC in NJ’s Education & Learning team accessed the emergency fund to help over 100 K-12 refugee youth purchase required school uniforms.
This emergency fund was established in honor of Robert P. DeVecchi, a former director, president and ultimately chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, and native New Yorker whose legacy gift first established emergency funding for the IRC's New York & New Jersey resettlement offices two years ago. His compassion and dedication live on through his charitable gift and has changed lives over the past two years.
The IRC in NJ’s clients have successes and struggles throughout their path from harm to home. The emergency fund is crucial in ensuring the IRC can quickly address and aid families. Many of the people we serve have endured war and persecution, perilous journeys, and years of exile and uncertainty. Yet they bring with them tremendous strength, determination, and resilience. Families are eager to become productive citizens, but need a solid launch and practical supports to successfully rebuild their lives. The IRC provides vital and targeted services, including cultural orientation, language support, women’s empowerment, youth programs, job placement and long term career development, and ultimately, assistance to become U.S. citizens, with emergency support along the way. As the year comes to a close, please consider supporting our emergency response efforts by clicking here.