The IRC in Richmond, VA
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of refugees are invited by the U.S. government to seek safety and freedom. Forced to flee conflict or persecution, many have survived for years against incredible odds. They step off the plane with next to nothing but their dignity, hope and determination. In Richmond and many other regional offices across the country, the IRC helps them rebuild their lives.
Who are refugees?
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in Richmond?
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. Out of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.
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 legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they choose.
How does the IRC help refugees in Richmond?
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 case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Help with rent
- Health care
- Nutritious, affordable food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Social services and community support
- Legal services towards residency and citizenship
Our programs in Richmond:
- Resettlement: When refugees arrive in Richmond, the IRC helps them adjust to life in the U.S. IRC case managers ensure that all refugees receive comprehensive services and case management. The IRC provides safe and affordable housing, facilitates school enrollment for children, and makes referrals for medical care and other necessary services. Resettlement meets the basic needs for food, shelter and legal rights in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
- Employment Services: Jobs are critical to the success of newly arrived refugees. All refugees come to the U.S. legally and are given immediate authorization to work. The IRC provides ongoing job readiness training and works closely with local employers and business associations to match refugees with available jobs. Within six months of arrival, the great majority of refugees are economically self-sufficient. Additionally, the IRC in Richmond works closely with individuals seeking a strategic approach to career development beyond early employment.
- Education and Integration: Integration into the local community is an essential part of refugee resettlement. Refugees come to the IRC classroom daily to learn English and participate in workshops on topics such as financial literacy, life skills and cultural orientation.
- Health: The IRC in Richmond’s health liaison assesses medical needs, connects families to suitable health care providers, and assists refugee clients with securing health insurance when necessary.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC is dedicated to providing education about the work of the IRC, refugees, and refugee resettlement for the Richmond community by giving presentations to school, civic, and church groups as well as hosting occasional informational events and film screenings.
How can I help refugees in Richmond?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Richmond:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
The IRC in Richmond is currently not able to accept any donated clothing, household items or other donated goods at this.
Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see our current list of volunteer opportunities here.
Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities here.
Group Volunteer Opportunities: Interested in getting your team involved in IRC project? Click here to see list of current group opportunities.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign (on- or offline). Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees, connect us to affordable housing options, help refugees to keep crucial health appointments, and teach financial literacy.
What do refugees contribute to Richmond?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Volunteer Spotlight: Jenny Orabona's Story
A Richmond volunteer’s journey to help serve the refugees in her community.
School Supplies Scholarships in Richmond
Consider making a donation to sponsor one child’s back-to-school needs!
Creating a family garden in Richmond
New volunteer Roberta Oster helped a Congolese family settle into their new home with a backyard garden.
The IRC in Richmond opened its doors in October 2015 to give refugee families the tools they need to take control over their new lives in the greater Richmond area, assisting them toward self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and community integration.Harriet KuhrHarriet Kuhr is director of the IRC's Richmond office.
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