The IRC in Atlanta, GA
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Atlanta and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Who are refugees?
Refugees are human beings fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in Atlanta?
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Of the over 60 million humans displaced globally, fewer than onepercent are considered for resettlement.
Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services. However, as documented U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.
When refugees arrive in Atlanta, their initial need is a sense of home. The IRC in Atlanta focuses on providing a safe place to live, a furnished apartment, access to quality health care services, English and job skills classes, and employment services, all as a way to ensure refugees feel welcome and secure. The IRC in Atlanta partners with community members who make these services available to the refugee community through financial donations, in-kind contributions, and volunteering.
How does the IRC help refugees in Atlanta?
Our programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in America—whether ensuring children are enrolled in school, adults become self-reliant through employment or starting businesses, or families receive acute medical care they need to recover from trauma or illness. The IRC helps those in need to rebuild their lives and regain control of their future in their new home community.
Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC staff and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Rental assistance
- Health care
- Nutritious food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Case management and community support
- Immigration services towards residency and citizenship
Our programs in Atlanta:
- Resettlement: Meeting the basic needs for food, shelter and clothing in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
- Economic Empowerment: Protecting, supporting and improving household livelihoods and financial security.
- Community Integration: Offering expertise and guidance to promote civic integration and the path to citizenship so individuals are prepared to participate fully in American society.
- Health and Wellness: Promoting wellness and ensuring access to healthcare services that address physical and psychological needs.
- Protection: Assisting clients in the US to file applications for their immediate family members, often separated through war and exile, to be resettled in the United States.
- Education and Learning: Provide daily instruction to adults in intensive, multi-level English language, computer literacy, and job skills classes as well as cultural and employment orientations that build the skills necessary to succeed. For children and teenagers, the IRC in Atlanta coordinates with local school systems to provide enrichment programming for refugee youth. Through the Youth Futures Afterschool Program, which provides school-year tutoring and academic counseling as well as the Summer Enrichment Camp and Summer Internship programs that offer youth the opportunity to develop leadership skills through community engagement and career development activities, the IRC in Atlanta ensures the successful integration of refugee youth clients.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in Atlanta provides the wider community with access to Board of Immigration (BIA) accredited representatives that assist in the completion of applications for naturalization, family reunification and other immigration benefits. Additionally, the IRC in Atlanta has a variety of education programs available to community members who want to improve their English skills or prepare for the US Civics Test and English Test that are part of the naturalization process.
How can I help refugees in Atlanta?
Thank you for your interest in supporting the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta! Generous supporters around the world have pledged their time and resources to helping refugees start anew. The minute these brave individuals step off the plane, IRC staff and volunteers are there to help them on the final leg of their journey. The IRC in Atlanta provides many opportunities to get involved and send a message of hope to refugees in our community. Please find details below for how you can get involved.
Donate: Although we receive public funding for initial resettlement and employment services, the assistance and educational services we provide to refugee families beyond their first few months in the U.S. would not be possible without community support from individual donors such as you.
Become a Volunteer: Support refugees by becoming a volunteer at the IRC in Atlanta.
Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign: For ideas or information on how to coordinate your own fund-drive for the IRC contact [email protected] and we’ll walk you through it.
Internship Opportunities: Each semester we recruit over 40 intern team-members to work in broad range of areas including development, education, employment, health and wellness, immigration, and resettlement as well as other direct service programs and administrative support. The success of our programming relies on their assistance and support - interns are essential to achieving our humanitarian mission. See our current list of internship opportunities here.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: The IRC’s Resettlement Store is stocked with donations from community members and is open three times a week for IRC families to “shop” for free. Donations of new and gently used items are greatly appreciated – see here for a list of goods accepted.
Spread the Word: Want to spread the word about making #RefugeesWelcome and also contribute more? There are many creative ways to accomplish these goals simultaneously.
Other Ways to Get Involved: There are many other ways to get involved, such as employing a refugee, helping to find affordable housing, and attending film showings and other local events.
What do refugees contribute to Atlanta?
Refugees’ contribution to the metro Atlanta region is considerable. Not only do refugees bring with them the skills, talents and educational backgrounds that address the needs of Atlanta’s booming economy, they also add enormous cultural capital that encourages entrepreneurship and small business development. In fact an estimated 31 percent of small enterprises and “Main Street” businesses in Georgia are started and maintained by immigrants to our area. As refugees integrate within their communities, they earn wages, pay taxes, start businesses, buy homes and support the local economy. Over 85% of refugee households in Georgia are economically self-sufficient within six months of arrival; one of the best rates of any state. Refugees in Atlanta are an essential part of the continued diverse growth of the metro area economy.
Statistics from a report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute entitled Immigrants Help Chart Georgia’s Course to Prosperity dated December 2015
Just Bakery of Atlanta provides gainful employment for local refugees
The IRC in Atlanta is proud to partner with Just Bakery of Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that trains, certifies and employs local refugees to make and sell a delicious selection of pastries, bread and other baked goods!
IRC English class connects community to career opportunities
The IRC in Atlanta is thrilled to announce that our English Literacy and Civics program is now offering free evening classes to the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm-9pm at Clarkston Community Center.
Youth Leadership Team shines at Clarkston Culture Fest
The IRC in Atlanta’s Youth Leadership Team have been working for months on a campaign to increase awareness of sexual and reproductive health services available to young people in the Clarkston area, so they were thrilled to participate in the Clarkston Culture Fest to expand their community outreach.
Our clients and refugee friends are human beings who have faced and survived the worst atrocities humans do to one another. At the very least their homes and communities have been taken away. Yet the refugees we are fortunate to have as neighbors have maintained their human dignity and commitment to succeeding despite seemingly insurmountable challenges. Refugees and immigrants are a model of resilience we should all emulate.J.D. McCraryJ.D. McCrary is Executive Director of the IRC's Atlanta office.
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