The IRC in Turlock, CA
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 Turlock 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 Turlock?
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 Turlock?
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 Turlock:
- Resettlement is with clients from touchdown at the airport. Within the initial three month span, the team helps refugees with housing, employment, benefits, health insurance, enrollment in English classes, cultural orientation, and referrals to internal and external support
- Employment assists clients in finding their very first jobs in the United States. This program offers basic job training, assistance with resumes and interviews, vocational scholarships, and weekly ESL classes.
- Immigration not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. The department provides assistance in applying for Green Cards, Citizenship/Naturalization, travel documents, employment authorization, visa applications, petitioning for family reunification, CAM/AOR, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in Turlock’s immigration department not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. In addition, the IRC in Sacramento partners with local service providers and community groups to conduct programming.
How can I help refugees in Turlock?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Turlock. 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 welcome kits for newly refugees. See how you can help.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own fundraising campaign. 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 option.
What do refugees contribute to Turlock?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Third grader spearheads donations campaign to help refugees
Olive Cicon may only be 9 years old, but the Tracy resident already has amassed a team of volunteers to assist refugees and other special immigrants as part of her "passion project"--and she's giving $5 of her own money to kick off her campaign. The following interview between Olive and her mother, Nettie Cicon, details how Olive plans to assist beneficiaries from the International Rescue Committee in Turlock/Modesto, and how others can help:
Refugee women gain tech skills during pandemic
Modesto Junior College instructor Emma Berdino didn’t have much hope when she learned her ESL class would be forced to go online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of her students, all women from Afghanistan recruited by the IRC in Turlock, were too tech-challenged to use a phone app to complete their homework prior to the viral outbreak.
“Most weren’t able to figure it out,” she said. “I thought, oh my goodness, we’re totally going to lose this class, because they’re not going to be able to do it.”
Berdino is grateful to be wrong, as nearly two-thirds of her students continue to take the course remotely after going exclusively online.
IRC in Northern California Response to Covid-19
We are continuously addressing the current and potential impacts this outbreak will have on IRC programs in Northern California (Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, Turlock/Modesto). IRC is providing critical information in all relevant languages to IRC employees, volunteers, refugees, victims of trafficking, asylees, and other hard-to-reach populations. We are working hard to ensure families have access to life essentials: food, internet and devices, cash assistance and all eligible public benefits.
After five years as the Executive Director for International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Northern California, I am resigning effective July 2, 2020. I gave notice on March 1, 2020, just before we knew that COVID-19 would start changing our world. I am grateful for the several months we have had to reflect internally as a team, on what this opportunity for leadership transition in Northern California means. The team’s strength and compassion, has filled me with gratitude and confidence that IRC will continue to be a partner and ally in building strong, just, and healthy communities across Northern California for many years to come. The new executive director, Sarah Terlouw will begin on August 1st, 2020. Please be sure to extend a warm welcome to Sarah in the coming months. Thank you.Karen FergusonKaren Ferguson is director of the IRC's Northern California offices.
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