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Meet our AmeriCorps Part 2

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The IRC in Atlanta is thrilled to introduce our 2018-19 AmeriCorps service members, who have been serving across our Adult Education, Economic Empowerment, Resource Development, Resettlement, Social Adjustment and Youth programs since early fall. Our nine AmeriCorps members will serve for around one year, and we could not be more grateful for their work and dedication.  

Each AmeriCorps member brings something unique to the table, and in this second installment of our two-part series, their desire to work with the IRC in Atlanta, their experiences, and their passions will become evident.  

 

Olivia Wargowsky 

Olivia Wargowsky is the NDMVA Adult Education Associate working in our Adult Education team. 

Olivia Wargowsky, NDMVA Adult Education Associate Photo: Jade Johnson

Why did you want to serve with the IRC in Atlanta?  

I wanted to serve with the IRC in Atlanta after seeing the impact the IRC had on a friend firsthand. I had never heard of the IRC before becoming friends with a refugee from Afghanistan in 2015. Whenever I would go to her house and ask her what she was up to and how she was getting along the IRC would always come up. She was getting clothes from the IRC, applying for jobs because of the IRC, her mother was going to class because of the IRC, etc. I was utterly shocked by what these three letters she kept speaking of could do. I researched more and ended up here. 

What has been your favorite moment serving here? 

It’s hard to pick a specific moment but if I had to it would come from my lesson on Scams and the Postal Service. I hammered it in my students minds that you are never supposed to give out personal information to anyone and then later when it was time to practice writing addresses a few of my students refused because they had just learned to never give out their address. It was honestly very funny at the time and also wonderful that they were clearly paying attention and getting something out of my lesson. 

What do you spend time doing outside of the IRC and AmeriCorps? 

Outside of work, I love to read, spend time with friends, explore new cities, laugh, and go to concerts. More realistically though I go home and watch Netflix and documentaries though since I can be pretty tired after work. 

What's one thing you would want people to know about refugees and the work the IRC is doing? 

I want people to know that our clients are some of the most inspiring, brave, courageous people I have met in my entire life. Refugees that come to the IRC have left everything behind and face every day with a smile and willingness to learn. The IRC does amazing things for refugees but the truly amazing things come from within our client’s hearts. 

 

Kaycie Pitts 

Kaycie Pitts is the NDMVA Financial Empowerment Associate working in our Economic Empowerment team. 

Kaycie Pitts, NDMVA Financial Empowerment Associate Photo: Jade Johnson

How did you decide on the role you're currently in?  

My supervisor when I was an intern was in the role that I’m currently in. I really liked it because I got a lot of client interaction with teaching workshops and taking clients to open bank accounts. I really enjoyed my time interning in the Economic Empowerment department, both because of the work that I did and the team I worked with so when I found out the AmeriCorps position was open, I was very excited to apply. 

What has been your favorite moment serving with the IRC?  

My favorite moment serving here has been coordinating a job interview that resulted in 10 job placements! 

What's one thing you would want people to know about refugees and the work the IRC is doing?  

One thing that I would encourage people to do is to read about or visit the IRC in Atlanta so that they can see the work that’s being done to help our clients. It’s so much more than just assisting them in the initial stages of resettlement. 

What plans do you have for the future after the IRC?  

I would like to go to graduate school eventually. My dream as a Model UNer is to one day work for the UN. I’d also like to stay around the IRC if possible. 

 

Meggie Stewart 

Meggie Stewart is the FoodCorps Service Member working in our Youth team. 

Meggie Stewart, FoodCorps Service Member Photo: Cory Hancock

How did you decide on the role you're currently in?  

It was a tough decision to do a service year instead of seeking a traditional job, but the appeal of gardening and cooking with kids every day was too good to resist. I'm happy I chose FoodCorps. 

Name something from your background that has helped you with assisting clients in your program?  

My mom kept a vegetable garden when I was growing up which pushed me to create that experience for other children.

What has been your favorite moment serving with the IRC?  

My first week teaching at the school, one student had a tantrum in the middle of my lesson, threw a pencil at me, and said it was the worst day of her life. My favorite moment was a couple weeks later when she said "Farmer Meggie, I was born for farming." It was a complete attitude shift towards growing food after only a few hours spent in the garden. 

What plans do you have for the future after the IRC?  

I'd love to stay in this line of work forever! But after my year with FoodCorps I'm planning to work in environmental advocacy, helping those most impacted by climate change. Hopefully I can bring most of the elements I love about my job now to a new position so that I remain close to the people I'm fighting for. 

 

Danielle Richards 

Danielle Richards is the Intensive Case Management (ICM) AmeriCorps working in our Social Adjustment team. 

Danielle, ICM AmeriCorps Member Photo: Jade Johnson

What have you learned so far in your time serving with the IRC in Atlanta?

In the short amount of time that I’ve been serving with the IRC, I have already learned so much about the process of immigration, the many departments that people must go through, and the various reasons for which individuals are forced to flee their home countries.  

What's one thing you would want people to know about refugees and the work the IRC is doing?  

The individuals seeking refuge outside of their countries are not doing so arbitrarily but for the basic needs of safety and resources for themselves and their families. I would like people to know how vital the services that the IRC offers truly are, as the organization helps refugees to thrive in their new lives.  

Name something from your background that has helped you with assisting clients in your program?  

Living and working abroad has definitely helped me to interact and better understand our clients as I have experience transitioning into a foreign environment which is new, exciting, and often times scary and intimidating. 

What plans do you have for the future after the IRC? 

After my service year, I plan on pursuing my Master’s in Public Health and furthering my experience with nonprofit organizations to better serve my community. 

 

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at  or 678-636-8941.

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