In 2005, former First Lady of Indianapolis Amy Minick Peterson led a study to determine how immigrant newcomers' needs were being met in Central Indiana. Together with members of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC), chaired by community leader Yvonne Shaheen, Mrs. Peterson researched various immigrant populations and their needs, facilitated focus groups with service providers and studied best practices in other cities for assisting immigrants and refugees.
By 2006 the Immigrant Welcome Center, as it is known today, was established with the help of 12 volunteers known as Natural Helpers. One year later, an executive director was hired, and by January 2008 the IWC moved its office into the John H. Boner Community Center.
The Immigrant Welcome Center empowers immigrants by connecting them to the people, places, and resources that enable them to build successful lives and enrich our community.
The IWC envisions Indianapolis as a community that empowers and values its residents which will result in new businesses that stabilize our local economy, a flourishing arts community, new voices and leadership at community meetings, and creative approaches to addressing our city's challenges.
The following Values Statement serves as a guide for the Immigrant Welcome Center’s efforts:
Because the natural bonds of human dignity surpass geographic, ethnic, or cultural boundaries, the Immigrant Welcome Center believes all residents of Indianapolis have the right and responsibility to contribute to and enjoy the vitality and growth of their city and community. By working together with compassion and emphasizing the value of ethnic diversity, we can show our decency as global citizens and intentionally improve Indianapolis economically, socially, and culturally.