The IRC in Wichita, KS
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 Witchita 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 Congo, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in Wichita?
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 Wichita?
IRC’s staff, volunteers and community partners work together to empower refugees to restore their dignity and self-reliance, and participate in their new communities.
- Reception and Placement: Meeting critical needs in the early months after arriving in the United States. IRC staff and community partners ensure newly arrived refugees are greeted at the airport; have a furnished home; receive time-limited rental assistance; have access to nutritious food, healthcare and education; and are given appropriate social services referrals.
- Employment Services: Early self-sufficiency through employment is the foundation of the US Refugee Program. IRC staff and volunteers provide job readiness training, vocational counseling, resume preparation, job search and placement services, and financial assistance for basic needs with the goal of helping refugees find their first job in America. Employment services are provided to refugees for up to five years from their date of arrival.
- English as a Second Language: IRC provides refugees the opportunity to learn ESL through beginner and intermediate ESL classes. Classes are unique, open enrollment classes that ensure refugees can enroll in ESL as soon as they arrive in the US. Volunteer instructors and classroom aids play a key role in helping refugees improve their language skills to qualify for better jobs and help integrate more quickly into their new communities.
- Intensive Case Management: Some refugees face barriers that make rapid employment difficult. Others face cultural barriers that require additional training and orientation support to learn to navigate American systems independently. Still others face crisis after an initial period of stability. For those refugees, IRC provides intensive case management services for up to five years after arrival.
- Immigration Services: The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services to refugees and other vulnerable newcomers. Through USCIS Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited Representatives, IRC provides representation in connection with filing of applications and petitions for adjustment of status, family reunification, naturalization and other immigration benefits. Family reunification is a hallmark of the US Refugee Program, bringing back together loved-ones separated during the chaos of conflict.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
Immigration Services: IRC’s Immigration services are open to broader community.
How can I help refugees in Wichita?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Wichita. You can:
Donate Money: Money raised in Wichita stays in Wichita. Local donations allow IRC to meet emergency needs of clients and support our programs in many ways.
Become a Volunteer or Intern: Volunteers support all facets of our work! Community volunteers make the difference between a refugee transitioning from surviving to thriving with the skills and knowledge to be a full participant in their new community.
Donate New or Gently Used Items: From gently used furniture and household goods to set-up apartments to old computers, bikes or TVs, the IRC seeks to provide refugees with items that will help them get restarted here in the US.
Host a DIY Fundraiser: Have fun hosting a fundraiser with IRC designated as your beneficiary. Work with IRC staff to develop and implement your concept, including establishing your own donation page linked to the IRC’s website.
Hold a Donation Drive: Help IRC meet critical needs of refugees by gathering together the new and gently used items from your friends, relatives, or community group.
What do refugees contribute to Wichita?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, starting businesses and gaining citizenship.
Garden City rallies behind refugees
The IRC is grateful for the Garden City community's show of support for refugees following a thwarted bombing attempt.
Holiday Giving Tree Gives Community and Opportunity to “Adopt” an IRC Family for the Holidays
Community individuals and partners are invited to "adopt" a IRC family during the holiday season.
IRC Hosted Second Annual Inter-Faith Summit for Refugees
The meeting was an opportunity for leaders and members from different faith based groups to come together to learn more about the IRC and ways that their organizations could get involved.
Refugees face some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable and their resilience is awe-inspiring. Empowering refugees to rebuild their lives, restore their sense of dignity, and participate in their new community is an exciting and life-changing experience. Please join us in our efforts to make Wichita a welcoming home.Jennifer Doran-PenaJennifer Doran-Pena is director of the IRC's Wichita office.
refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking and other immigrants in the United States to receive services.
The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in 22 cities across the U.S.Learn more about immigration
newly arrived refugees who have been offered sanctuary by the United States to resettle in their new communities.
The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war.See where we work in the U.S.
refugees from East Asia to resettle in the United States through the IRC Resettlement Support Centers in Thailand and Malaysia.
We help refugees prepare paperwork, facilitate interviews with U.S government officials, and, once they have been accepted for resettlement, schedule medical screening and take cultural orientation classes.Read about resettlement support