2019 marked a year of progress and transformation for the Immigrant Welcome Center (IWC). With an expanded staff, the implementation of new programs, and successful events, IWC is closing out the year with gratitude and anticipation for continued success in 2020.
Community partnerships have been a key piece of the IWC since the beginning and have helped the center to embark on one of its long-term goals – transitioning from a referral-based organization to providing more in-house programs and services. They kicked off 2019 by launching a partnership with and becoming a satellite office for, the Immigrant Connection. This partnership now provides Department of Justice accredited legal services to immigrants at a low cost. By offering these low-cost legal services in house, the IWC has been able to provide even more assistance to immigrants in need of legal assistance.
By serving as a satellite office for other nonprofit agencies, IWC is now able to offer in-house healthcare navigation services, by partnering with HealthNet. Partnering with Morales Group Staffing Agency has also allowed the IWC to offer job placement and resume assistance. Providing additional services, rather than simply referring clients to them, is instrumental in IWC’s path to becoming a more well-rounded resource for immigrants in Indianapolis.
A new grant from the Cities for Citizenship network, a subsidiary of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), was awarded to IWC in 2019. This grant established a stronger partnership between IWC and the city of Indianapolis and allowed the center to expand its staff. Specifically, the organization can now put more time and energy into enhancing and promoting the naturalization program due to filling the role of Naturalization & Marketing Coordinator.
As 2019 comes to a close, plans for 2020 are well underway. The staff at IWC has been dedicated to developing their Cultural Humility Classes, a training program for local institutions. This highly interactive and challenging training provides teams an opportunity to unpack the layers of culture, privilege, and power and how these concepts present staff with opportunities to work effectively cross-culturally. The training aims to create a safe space for organizations and institutions to examine their own personal ideas and biases while moving forward by learning tools to implement cultural humility practices when working with the community.
Classes took place in 2019 and were very well-received. Moving into the new year, the additional course curriculum will be added and opportunities for more businesses to register will be offered. In the meantime, if your organization is interested in hosting a class, please contact Amy Shackelford at or call 317-808-2326.
Starting in February of 2020, IWC will begin offering citizenship classes, allowing the center to create a deeper connection with clients and help guide them through the lengthy and detailed process toward naturalization. Upcoming sessions are scheduled for February 3rd and 5th. To register, please call (317) 808-2326.
Changes in the Natural Helper program will offer volunteers more variety in how they want to get involved with IWC. There will now be three optional tracks to this program: At-Large Natural Helper, Help Desk Natural Helper, and Ambassador. For more details, please see the website.
Live Local, Think Global
Immigrant Welcome Center hosted its fifth annual Live Local, Think Global event on October 30th. This year far surpassed prior years in both attendance and donations, and the organization is humbly grateful for the support and contribution toward the inclusion of immigrants in Indianapolis.
Speakers at the event offered unique and inspiring perspectives, promoting advanced awareness and understanding of the journey of immigrants. Event attendees had the pleasure of sampling food from a variety of local, multi-cultural restaurants.
The event also offered an opportunity for IWC supporters to show their gratitude to Executive Director, Terri Morris Downs. As her tenure with the organization comes to a close, it is evident the impact she has had on immigrants in Indianapolis. Her legacy will live on in the motivation of the IWC staff to continue making great strides in this important issue.
Strategic plans are underway to make the goals of the IWC a reality in 2020. By continuing to offer more in-house programs, to assist clients with each step of the process toward naturalization, and to make strides in helping Indianapolis to become an even more inclusive city, IWC plans to play an integral role in changing the perception of and challenges to immigrants. Classes, programs, and events will be posted on our social media channels – be sure to follow! Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. And get involved – the Immigrant Welcome Center isn’t merely a place to serve immigrants. The Immigrant Welcome Center is an inviting place to involve any Hoosiers who want to be a part of making a lasting and life-changing difference in the future of diversity and inclusivity in Indianapolis.
Written by Anna Bunnell, Communcations Intern