Happy National Volunteer Week! Without our volunteers and interns, the IRC in Dallas would not be able to do the work we do. This past year we had over 200 volunteers, mentors, and interns who worked a grand total of 19,190 hours!
We truly appreciate every single one of our volunteers and thank them for their service and dedication. Below we highlight some of them.
Shahera Ranjha has interned with the Mental Health department for nearly a year and will soon graduate with her Master’s in Clinical Psychology. In the department, she provides Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for clients and helps coordinate care for clients needing medication. She also completes screenings, intakes, and assessments, and provides mental health literacy. Shahera steps up to help new clients and has served over 40 people in the program with dependability and flexibility with whatever task she’s been assigned to.
A team player, she also helps other departments with translation in Urdu and always wants to give extra support. Working with the refugee population has been a highlight during her time at the IRC. “Refugees are some of the most compassionate, funny, dedicated, and hardworking people I have known. I genuinely love working with them and getting to witness their uniquely challenging individual journeys has been such a privilege.”
Deborah Greer has been volunteering in the Resource Development department since October of 2016. From helping clients pick out donations, to driving them home, to being an editor of our Youth Voices project, to even sewing coats for our clients in the winter, Deborah has been an integral part of the department for the past four years.
A retired CPA who loves languages, she has been delighted to learn how much communication can take place even when there is not shared language. When asked about her favorite part of volunteering she says it’s “meeting clients—I’ve met so many lovely, charming people.”
Kaitlen Clare has been an intern with our Economic Empowerment (EE) team this semester. She will be graduating in the summer with her Master’s in Social Work from UTA. During her time at the IRC she has collaborated with nearly every program within the EE department, including Employment, Financial Capabilities, New Roots, and Career Pathways. Most recently she helped orchestrate the COVID-19 assessment calls to active and medically vulnerable clients, training other interns and volunteers on the process.
Of her time fulfilling her internship at our office, she says “The IRC has also afforded me the chance to work with an incredibly worldly, knowledgeable, supportive, and multi-faceted collection of staff, interns, and volunteers that have taught me more about social work, the disenfranchised, myself, and the ways of the world in four months than I have learned in all my years of schooling.”
Meet Mike and Joan!
Our first married office volunteers, we wanted to give a special shout out to both Mike and Joan. After retiring and moving to Dallas to be near their son, they looked for a place to volunteer and soon joined the IRC.
Mike Bardee was initially interested in the IRC because his paternal grandparents came through Ellis Island as refugees from Italy. He started in the Economic Empowerment department a year ago. During his time in EE, Mike has led career orientations and assisted in Financial Literacy workshops. He is also credited with supporting the development of the Advanced Job Readiness Training: Digital Literacy curriculum.
Recently he has become the Community Engagement volunteer, where he ensures that our clients can provide feedback on our work and that their feedback is used to improve how we help them. Since we moved remotely, he has consolidated the responses to the COVID-19 assessments and created a document of our clients' needs.
Of his time at the IRC, he says, “volunteering is a way for me to help others in need, since Joan and I have been so fortunate. And the IRC staff is so hard-working and caring that it inspires me!”
Joan Bardee has been volunteering with Reception after her husband suggested she join him in 2019. A former foster parent, Joan is a standout for her interactions with the children that frequent the office. Known to talk to kids, draw pictures with them, and teach them how to do puzzles, she also greets clients, answers the phone, and helps with filing.
When asked why she keeps coming back she says, “I get more out of volunteering than I give. Meeting refugees and others needing assistance reminds me of how much I have. Plus, working with the IRC staff is a blast! Everyone is hardworking, but very friendly. Keeps me young!”
Sharina Limbu interns with our Reception and Placement department, helping clients in their first ninety days in America. A UT Arlington student obtaining her BSW, she has spent time this semester providing walking orientations to clients to teach them how to get to ESL, medical appointments and the IRC office. She has shown clients how to pay for their rent and utilities and taught them about DART—a topic even she had to learn about. In the midst on the pandemic, she has assisted our Orientation and ESL Coordinator with remote cultural orientation for our families as well as the COVID-19 screeners.
Sharina has demonstrated a passion for the work, but most importantly, a commitment to clients. She shares that “the best thing to happen since I started interning with the IRC is being able to empower my clients and enable them to stand on their own.”