Emily Parker, along with her husband Daniel, has played an integral part of The Well since the very beginning! Emily, who works for the IRC, has a genuine heart for those she is able to serve in her position. Though Daniel and Emily will be leaving us soon, we are thankful for their work in helping The Well learn more about how we can serve the nations right here in Abilene. Here is an interview I was able to do with Emily about what the IRC is and how we can better serve them as a church.
What is your name and job position?
My name is Emily Parker, I am the Volunteer and Office Coordinator at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Abilene. I oversee and recruit interns, manage interpreters, do community outreach, and recruit and manage volunteers. I also do administrative tasks around the office.
What is the IRC?
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. At work today in over 40 countries and 24 U.S. cities, we restore safety, dignity and hope to millions who are uprooted and struggling to endure. The IRC leads the way from harm to home.
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. 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.
The IRC in Abilene opened its doors in 2003 and began resettling refugee families in Abilene in 2004. Since then, the office has grown from a staff of three to sixteen and estimates that it has served upwards of 3,000 refugees in Abilene and the Big Country.
In Abilene, the IRC helps refugees rebuild their lives, create economic and social opportunities, and contribute to our Abilene community. Refugees in Abilene supply a steady workforce to employers, start businesses, buy houses, and volunteer in our community.
What is important about Refugee Resettlement?
We live in a significant moment in history. A number of world leaders have called this the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. That’s significant language. What they’re saying is that our children are going to study this moment in history—that your grandkids are going to read about these days and the political implications of it. They’ll study devastation that’s happening in our day. And yet the reality is, they’re also going to read about us. What are we doing in the face of such destruction?
Currently in the world, there are over 65 million displaced people. That’s the largest number in history. Middle Eastern and African nations are the top hosts of refugees worldwide. You can find more about that here.
This year, the United States has agreed to resettle 45,000 refugees, which is a small drop in the bucket of the displacement crisis. This number was set by the White House and is the lowest in US history. Numbers are generally over 100,000 per year. What we can be assured of with this small number is that the families that are being resettled in the US are the most vulnerable of cases. Currently, our office is seeing quite a few single moms, families that are preliterate, and the reunification of families that have been separated for years.
What’s great about having these populations in Abilene is that the nations are in our backyard, within reach without needing to get on a plane or support raise.
How can we be involved as a church and individuals?
As a church
Continue to champion the cause of refugees from the pulpit. Continue to articulate that loving refugees is akin to loving the stranger that Christ talks about in Matthew 25:31-40. It’s not a suggestion that Christ makes to love the stranger, it’s a command.
Welcome refugees in every facet of your life. You can volunteer at the IRC by applying online. There is a 4 step process to become a volunteer through the IRC. The process includes a background check, attending an orientation session, completing an online application, and checking several references. While you can pursue relationships with refugees in the community on your own, I highly recommend going through the IRC. In orientation, you’ll learn more about our office and our programs so that you can know what services refugees might already be receiving and what their most immediate needs are. You will also have the support of the IRC, should you have any additional questions or need additional resources while volunteering.
Volunteer opportunities range from being an occasional volunteer to being a family mentor, and countless opportunities in between. If there is something that you are particularly gifted in or passionate about, but you don’t know how that will translate to serving refugees, we welcome your passions and giftings. We are confident that we can help you to find a way to relate that to serving refugees in our community.
Lastly, please consider exercising your right to vote and advocate in a way that champions the cause of refugees.
Any other info you would like for us to know…
As a whole, Abilene is a very welcoming community to refugees. With our high volume of churches, non-profits, and low cost of living, we are a perfect environment for refugees to come live a successful life. Refugees love it here, and we love having them. Refugees are an asset to our community and to our country. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Watch this 60 Second Spotlight on Youth Programming in Abilene!Lara and Pascaline want you to mark your calendars for May 1st to give to the continuation of this key program. #AbileneGivesLearn more!:https://abilenegives.org/designee/international-rescue-committee
Posted by International Rescue Committee in Texas on Friday, April 6, 2018