COVID-19 has presented many challenges in supporting IRC in Richmond clients with job placements. The pandemic disproportionately impacted the foodservice and hospitality industries, which comprise a large portion of the jobs available to newly arrived refugees in the Richmond area. Additionally, clients must balance their worries about financial stability with on-the-job safety. IRC employment staff work to educate and support clients through this time, explaining the safety precautions taken at job site referrals, discussing clients’ concerns, and connecting them to community resources. Staff continually empower clients to make the best decisions for themselves and their families during this difficult, uncertain time.
Despite these challenges, the IRC in Richmond's employment team is developing new partnerships with local employers. The most recent connection is credited to volunteer Marianne Stack. Marianne began her volunteer journey in September 2019 and is integral to many aspects of welcoming our newest neighbors. She can be found driving clients to medical appointments and job interviews before their public transportation orientation, supporting Child Watch in the IRC office during ELL class, plus coordinating community donations for our Resettlement Store and even recruiting her family members for event support! “Volunteering for the IRC in Richmond is a humbling and rewarding experience. I enjoy helping families and individuals as they adapt to their new environment. So many of them put on a brave face but I sense their (understandable) fear and confusion just below the surface.”
Before COVID-19 arrived in the United States, Marianne was driving three IRC clients to their first day of work. The commute took them by Sabra Dipping Company’s new Chesterfield location where they recently expanded and are operating around the clock with jobs ranging from the assembly line to office work to finance in the manufacturing of their hummus, dips, and spreads. Marianne recalled a recent networking post on LinkedIn from a friend who works in Sabra’s finance department that they were hiring. “Sabra and the IRC felt like such an obvious partnership. The IRC had a pool of talented and skilled immigrants in need of work. One of my favorite things in life is bringing people with similar interests together.”
After Marianne’s introduction, Sabra HR staff and IRC Employment Specialists Sophie Golden and Olivia Rivero met via Zoom to discuss available Packaging Associate positions, set expectations, and define the next steps for client referrals. The Sabra HR coordinator provided detailed information about the safety precautions in place to protect employees. “This partnership has proved to be very successful so far thanks to quick and clear communication between Sabra, IRC, and client applicants and has already led to three job offers!” shared Sophie Golden.
The IRC in Richmond staff is grateful for all of the community support we receive, including volunteer time and shared commitment to the work we do and those we serve, and partnerships that enhance our ability to encourage self-sufficiency through employment and integration. If you are a Richmond area employer with an interest in a diverse, dedicated, reliable employee base, please reach out to Employment Specialist Sophie Golden, sophie.golden [at] rescue.org.