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Volunteer highlight: James & Jack

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City would like to thank all of the incredibly dedicated community volunteers who have supported our work and the families we serve over the years. Learn about two invaluable members of our volunteer corps below.  

Participants in a tablet workshop by the IRC in Salt Lake City's digital inclusion program look at their tablets

Tech Squad volunteers serve as a part of the IRC's digital inclusion program and provide technical support and digital literacy education.

Photo: Jeri Gravlin

Meet James. 

James started volunteering last year right at the beginning of the pandemic. As a retired engineer, using his free time volunteering with the Tech Squad felt very natural for him. One of the biggest challenges he has faced as a Tech Squad volunteer working virtually is not being able to communicate with people in person. For James, the best part about his role on the Tech Squad is helping people overcome challenges with technology. The experience of trying to virtually help someone with technology has opened his eyes to what it might be like to come to a new country without being fluent in the common language.  

“I think I have gained an appreciation for what it’s like to come to a new country,” James says. “They’re positive people, but especially with COVID-19, it’s got to be intimidating to come to a new country.” James says he sees himself volunteering for a while, and looks forward to being able to volunteer in person again. “If I’m there physically, I think that would be a lot more effective,” James shares.    

Meet Jack. 

Jack is a Tech Squad volunteer who started volunteering with the IRC last year. He has been surprised by the resilience of the people he works with, “It has been a lesson in humility,” Jack shares, reflecting on the patience and determination of the refugees he has been working with as a volunteer.  

Generally, Jack helps people experiencing issues with technology. “There is a huge range of things that could be going on,” Jack explains, from teaching people to log in to their computer, all the way to helping one individual with boosting his social media presence for his food truck. Jack is currently studying computer science but wants to work in the humanitarian sector. “[Volunteering at the IRC] is a great way for me to gain first-hand experience with refugees, which I have found to be very rewarding.”

IRC Tech Squad: Volunteers with the IRC Tech Squad support refugee individuals and families by providing technical support and digital literacy education. Tech Squad volunteers serve as a part of the IRC’s digital inclusion and literacy efforts to provide one-on-one support for new community members with technology. Learn more about this volunteer opportunity and others by visiting Rescue.org/VolunteerSLC