International Rescue Committee
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 started in 2015 to support an existing community garden run by Bhutanese refugees in 2010 in Tukwila, WA. Today, New Roots manages five 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, to build 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 to familiarize 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. The number of orientations varying month-to-month based on the number of new arrivals. Unfortunately, the global pandemic forced New Roots to put a pause on the orientations and hopes that they can return soon.
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, the farmers market 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.
Throughout the course of 2019 and 2020, the year one and year two VISTA coordinated and led ten garden work parties at three garden sites, working with over 206 on-call volunteers total to complete garden construction and maintenance projects. Additionally, the year one VISTA recruited and managed volunteers for in-person interpretation of food system orientations. The year 2 VISTA created a position for and helped recruit a longer-term Administrative Volunteer to support New Roots with data aggregation and quarterly calls to clients.
Host Site Articles
- Coordinating Weekly Deliveries of Fresh Produce for Seniors in Need at IRC
- Donor Relations at IRC
- Honoring Culture and Traditional Knowledge of Refugee Farmers in Community Gardens at IRC
- Intercultural Communication at IRC
- Marketing & Visibility at IRC
- Organizing an Aggregate Table During a Global Pandemic at IRC
- Organizing Food System Orientations: Pre-Orientation Logistics (IRC)
- Plain Language as a Tool for Inclusive Communications
- Volunteer Relations at the International Rescue Committee
- Working with Interpreters at IRC