The IRC in Silver Spring, MD
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 Silver Spring and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to 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 Silver Spring?
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.
What are refugees’ immediate needs?
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 Silver Spring:
- Resettlement: Meeting the basic needs for food, shelter and legal rights in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
- Economic Empowerment: Protecting, supporting and improving household livelihoods and financial security.
- Community Integration and Development: Strengthening communities and preparing individuals to participate fully in American society.
- Health and Wellness: Promoting wellness and ensuring access to healthcare services that address physical and psychological needs.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC’s immigration program assists community members with legal services such as Legal Permanent Residence applications and Citizenship applications. The IRC also provides employment services to qualifying community members.
How can I help refugees in Silver Spring?
Thank you for your compassionate response to the plight of refugees and for your interest in joining us to help them. As you can guess, we have been inundated with people from everywhere wanting to help and we are doing our best in trying to respond to all inquiries. Our work here in the Metro DC area is critical and we need your help for all clients whom we proudly serve.
There are many ways that you can get involved. You can:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
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.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting Target or Walmart gift cards, bedding (twin or full), diapers for newly refugees. See how you can help.
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, connect us to appropriate nonprofits, provide office or storage space.
What do refugees contribute to Silver Spring?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Finding Your Voice
This past semester, ten high school students from four different countries were selected to represent their peers on the first IRC CONNECT Leadership Council. The IRC CONNECT Leadership Council was created to offer recently resettled students a formal opportunity to develop their leadership skills,explore civic engagement and build confidence in their ability to create change in our communities.Over the past couple of months, students have participated in a variety of activities including the SUMMIT Leadership Course at George Washington University and workshops focusing on public speaking, critical thinking, and debate skills.
Build Your Future
On April 6th, the IRC, in partnership with Play-well TEKnologies and Peer to Peer, brought 155 students and family members to the University of Maryland for a morning of LEGO-inspired learning. This was the second time that IRC in Silver Spring has had the opportunity to team-up with Play-Well TEKnologies to host a community building event for recently resettled families. “The Play-Well team uses the universal language of fun! Participants ranged from babies to grandparents, all excited to explore a new place and imagine a future at UMD.
Against the Odds: A Journey to Citizenship
Boi Pessima came to the U.S. in 2005 to reunite with her father and siblings to obtain better care for her daughter Mary but leaving her oldest son behind in Sirra Leone. Five years after receiving her green card, she applied for citizenship but was denied twice. She reached out to the immigration team at the IRC and with their support she was able to pass her interview. Now, fourteen years after her arrival in the U.S., she is a U.S. citizen and is excited to vote.
We succeed in assisting refugees only with the strong support of the various communities in suburban Washington, DC. Refugee families benefit greatly from community volunteers, advocates, and donors. I urge you to become active in our efforts to assist refugees to establish a safe and secure life here in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.Ruben ChandrasekarRuben Chandrasekar is director of the IRC's Silver Spring office.
children and parents seeking asylum in the U.S.
Extreme poverty and rampant violence in Central America have fueled a humanitarian crisis.See how we help asylum seekers
refugees and SIV recipients to resettle in the U.S.
The IRC helps refugees fleeing war and persecution to rebuild their lives in 25 U.S. cities.Learn about refugees in America
people with economic empowerment programs.
Our support includes financial coaching, vocational training and asset building.See our work in economic wellbeing