Website: https://www.rescue.org/ united-states/seattle-wa
Email Address: Seattle@rescue.org
1200 South 192nd Street
SeaTac, WA 98148
International Rescue Committee
Since 1976, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle has helped welcome and support thousands of refugees, immigrants, and survivors of human trafficking in Washington State. The IRC’s New Roots program was created in 2015 to support an existing community garden run by Bhutanese refugees that was started in 2010 in Tukwila, WA. Today, New Roots manages four community garden sites in South King County, serving nearly 200 refugee and immigrant families. New Roots also helps individuals and families adjust to their new home through gardening workshops, nutrition education, orientation to U.S. food systems, and youth leadership activities. These programs aim to foster emotional well-being and social connections for people experiencing isolation or other challenges associated with moving to a new country. The AmeriCorps VISTA position with New Roots began in November 2018, with the goal of building sustainable systems for New Roots programs.
The AmeriCorps VISTA is involved in three key areas of New Roots programming: food system orientations, event planning and leadership, and volunteer management. A brief summary of each is listed below.
Food System Orientations
In December 2018, New Roots began offering food system orientations to newly arrived refugees with the goal of orienting them to the U.S. food system and its hidden components. The VISTA helped to plan, coordinate, and lead these orientations over the course of their term, with the help of a 6-month Washington Service Corps member who joined the New Roots team in February 2019. Food system orientations now include a food bank tour and a grocery store tour at locations near the homes of new arrivals, with the number of orientations varying month-to-month based on number of new arrivals.
Event Planning and Leadership
The VISTA coordinates and manages a wide range of events for the New Roots team, including garden enrollments in February and March, garden work parties in the spring and summer months, and the annual Harvest Party in the fall. The VISTA creates plans for each event, handles logistics and communications, and leads events on the day-of.
Over the course of 2019, the VISTA coordinated and led nine garden work parties at three garden sites, working with over 110 on-call volunteers total to complete garden construction and maintenance projects. In addition, the VISTA recruited and managed volunteers for in-person interpretation of food system orientations.