The Pacific Northwest is home to a diverse set of communities, some long-established and some newly arrived. The Murdock Trust is grateful to partner with a number of organizations working to make our region’s newest members–immigrants and refugees–feel welcomed, settled, and supported so that they have an opportunity to flourish and thrive in our community. These include organizations such as Alaska Institute for Justice, Refugee Women’s Alliance in Washington, Jannus, Inc. in Idaho, LEAP Charities in Idaho, Immigration Counseling Service in Oregon, Lutheran Community Services Northwest in Washington, and so many others.
One of the longest-standing and largest groups meeting this need in Oregon is Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). IRCO was founded in 1976 and has grown to be the largest community-based and culturally specific social service provider for immigrants and refugees in the state. Its mission is to “promote the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society.” It’s work they are well-equipped to deliver, with one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse workforces in Oregon.
IRCO works toward their mission with several types of programs, including:
- Employment & Training Programs that include job coaching, certification courses, and youth workforce development.
- Family Programs that offer life skills training, health education, relationship building, and anti-poverty assistance.
- Children Programs that focus on early childhood development and support for families to stay together or be reunited after time in the foster care system.
- Community Development Programs that cultivate civic engagement and leadership in immigrant and refugee communities.
- Legal Services such as voter rights education, legal and social service navigation, and citizenship classes.
- Language Programs that include interpretations and translations for 100+ languages, helping everyone they work with begin to feel connected to their new communities.
IRCO also has a number of culturally and linguistically specific centers, including:
- Africa House, serving more than 5,000 community members from 22 ethnic and cultural backgrounds annually.
- Pacific Islander and Asian Family Center, the first of its kind to specifically serve Pacific Islanders and Asians.
- Slavic and Eastern European Center, led by an advisory council that ethnically and culturally reflects the community it serves.
- Greater Middle East Center, supporting communities from North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and offering a flagship language program that teaches Arabic to children.
As Oregon’s immigrant and refugee population is one of the fastest growing in the United States, IRCO’s services that welcome and support our newest neighbors are needed now more than ever. The Murdock Trust is grateful to have partnered with IRCO in a variety of ways, through welcoming IRCO staff at our Women in Leadership conference, as well as through several capacity-building grants since 2001, including the construction of a community center, the reconstruction of Africa House, and new staff.
With gratitude for IRCO’s 46 years of service in our region and anticipation of many more years to come, the Murdock Trust says thank you! Our region is strengthened and enriched by your work, and the work of all organizations seeking to welcome and support our region’s newest communities.