The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and immigrants seeking citizenship 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 Spokane and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ukraine, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
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 over 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.
IRC's 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 Spokane:
- 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
- Children, Youth and Education: Providing educational and developmental opportunities that build the essential academic, personal, and social skills needed to succeed
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities by building careers, contributing to the economy, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship, and adding value to our city by sharing the richness of their culture and perspectives.
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Spokane. You can:
Donate: Make a one-time or monthly tax-deductible gift via our website. Your contributions directly support local IRC programs, helping refugees and immigrants who are rebuilding their lives our community.
Participate: Join IRC in the community throughout the year. Follow @IRCSpokane on Facebook for updates and opportunities. Events raise critical resources to support newcomers and visibly reassure refugee families that Washington welcomes them.
Advocate: Call on policy makers to support refugees, immigrants, and survivors of trafficking. Please email, call, or write your elected officials with a message of support today!
Educate: With knowledge of refugee issues, you can help dispel misunderstandings about refugees within your own community by engaging in conversation and posting on social media or anywhere you see an opportunity to give accurate information. Resources to get you started include:
IRC’s Refugees in America
Refugee Council USA
UNHCR Global Trends Report
Coordinate a Donation Drive: Team up with friends, family, or colleagues to collect essential items - household goods, kitchenware, school supplies, job readiness kits, or gift cards - for newly-arrived families. Click here for current donation needs and guidelines, or email us with questions.
Volunteer: Volunteers and interns are integral to the IRC's work in Spokane. Visit our volunteer page to learn about the different ways to get involved. Email us to join our "on-call" volunteer team or attend a Volunteer Orientation to join as a long-term volunteer or intern.
Employ Newcomers: The IRC’s economic empowerment program helps newcomers prepare for the Spokane job market and work toward their career goals in the U.S. Contact the IRC if interested in offering employment or professional development opportunities to newcomers.
Open Your Home: The IRC and Airbnb are working together to welcome refugees to the Spokane area -- and we would love for you to join us! Open Homes lets you share your extra private space (a separate private unit) on a temporary basis with refugee families as they transition into their new home and community.
Connect IRC to Affordable Housing: Housing stability is critical to the health and wellness of all families. We greatly appreciate information on, or connections to, long-term affordable housing options for IRC clients.
million people in countries affected by crisis were reached by IRC
The IRC works in more than 40 countries and over 28 U.S. cities to help people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover and rebuild their lives.
people in the U.S. received asylum and protection support
IRC offices across the U.S. provide immediate aid including food, housing and medical attention among other supportLearn about resettlement and asylum
2,697 people were assisted to become new U.S. citizens
The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in cities across the U.S.Learn about immigration