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IRC and refugees respond with resiliency and innovation

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Having been laid off in the last recession, Ian Murphy knows the struggles of this tumultuous time and has taken action for his IRC clients. With refugees and immigrants across the Bay Area struggling to find job opportunities, Murphy, an ESL instructor at the IRC in Oakland, has launched a new class on Zoom to engage creativity. The class is called "Side Hustle: How We Survive This Moment Together."

The IRC in Oakland's Ian Murphy sets up the first remote ESL class with students from his home office.

Photo: Ian Murphy


One student has already begun to find supplementary employment, working with apps such as Instacart and Doordash. Coming from Afghanistan 6 months ago, he has kept a positive attitude and is using this position to learn about the American working life, helping with groceries for other families across the Bay Area. 

“My caseworker (Emily) while this is going on is helping me with my education, my field will be mechanical engineering,” the student said. “From the time I have come to the US I know this is the land of abundance and during COVID-19 we need to keep going”. 

The Economic Empowerment department at the Oakland office has been working to move clients forward in this time, as Emily Plummer, the Employment Specialist in Oakland, knows so well. 

“Now that we know we are going to be in this situation longer we are putting plans in place to help our clients to move forward” Emily said. “We can’t wait for things to go back to normal and need to move away from being reactionary.” (Hear a live update from Emily here)

It is clear that Murphy's class will be flexible and sometimes humorous in these new times, in a way we will all need. From creative classes to new jobs, the IRC in Oakland and its clients are working harder than ever to build new lives in the Bay Area.