As of August 20, The International Rescue Committee in Kansas office remains closed to staff, clients and the general public due to COVID-19. Staff will continue to communicate with clients remotely during this time.
Summer 2020 News & Updates
Our team at the IRC in Kansas has been working hard to respond quickly to client needs, as everyone in the community is feeling the social, economic, and health impacts of COVID-19. While programming is currently not business-as-usual, we continue to serve refugee families and survivors of human trafficking remotely, many of whom need support from the IRC and neighbors more than ever.
- Wichita Area Response Network-Human Trafficking (WARN-HT) continues to build a community-wide collaborative network of governmental and non-governmental agencies, service providers, advocates, independent community members, survivors and non-profit organizations throughout the greater Wichita area and beyond. WARN-HT has developed a community approach to interacting with and assisting survivors of human trafficking, acts as a resource for training needs and opportunities, and provides individuals and agencies with appropriate referral networks for survivors.
- In January 2021, the IRC will launch the Lighthouse Project to serve adult victims and survivors of human trafficking in Kansas and throughout the country. The mission of the Lighthouse Project is to provide a safe environment in which victims and survivors of human trafficking are supported in finding their way forward and out of the darkness of their trafficking experiences. By working alongside victims and survivors with access to services in the Wichita area and beyond, the Lighthouse Project seeks to empower individuals to rediscover the light and life within themselves.
- Fall 2020 will also see the launch of a culturally responsive, trauma-informed comprehensive family-stability program offered to low-income families with children under the age of 18 in the Wichita area. The program seeks to reduce poverty through increasing caregiver functioning, positive parenting practices, social supports and services, and strengthening family stability.
- In response to COVID, the IRC has undertaken a digital literacy initiative to provide refugee and immigrant clients with a stronger foundation for accessing virtual learning opportunities and expand digital skills in New Americans. Both virtual one-on-one and group classes have been offered as well as a virtual library on YouTube which provides videos on common topics in numerous languages, including Swahili, Pashto and Spanish.
- Refugee arrivals have dwindled, with no new arrivals since March 2020, just prior to the stay at home order. In fiscal year 2020 the IRC has assisted only 51 refugees and special immigrant visa (SIV) holders to resettle in the Wichita, compared to 209 arrivals in fiscal year 2019. This has not only reduced the offices ability to serve clients who are already here, but has also decreased overall funding to the organization through reduction in federal grant support.
- The IRC immigration department has continued to help individuals and families apply for citizenship, renew or apply for legal permanent residence (green card), reunify families and attend appointments at USCIS. Please visit Virtual Immigration Services for more information.
- The virtual Run for Refugees culminated in a virtual run/walk on World Refugee Day, June 20. The virtual event raised more than $9,000 and attracted 191 runners and walkers across the state of Kansas and beyond.
- We continue to raise dollars for our Emergency Fund to help newcomers maintain housing and food security, buy essential grocery and hygiene items and get the childcare they need to continue to support their families. Please consider offering support through an online gift at Rescue.org/GiveWichita or by sending donations to the address below.
Please send all donations and gift cards to:
International Rescue Committee
Attn: COVID Response
PO Box 21107
Wichita, KS 67208
If you have questions, donations or concerns please contact the following:
IRC Office: 316-351-5495 or Kansas [at] Rescue.org
Employment Services, Christopher Cooper-Martin: 316-518-4252
Intensive Case Management, Tabitha Frey: 316-226-3182
Resettlement Services, Alexa Audino: 316-518-6758
Any additional questions can be directed to Kansas [at] Rescue.org.