Refugee Connections Spokane projects focus on wellness and civic engagement.
American Law and Justice Workshop
This event is dedicated to: 1) fostering a positive view of the U.S. legal system, given that many refugees come from places where authority is a symbol of threat; 2) explaining the purpose of our criminal justice system and how it functions; 3) identifying key civil rights and liberties; and 4) providing information - in writing - to each participant about where to seek help in protecting those rights. RCS has collaborated with our community partners to present three Workshops since 2013.
The Harvest Project connects refugees with donor farms and gardens to harvest fruits and vegetables that refugees then distribute free of charge in a low-income Spokane neighborhood. The project was inspired by a former refugee who sought a way for refugees to give back to the community that has offered them a safe home. It has helped to provide social connections and free healthy produce to refugees, immigrants, and low-income neighborhood residents since 2011.
RCS coordinates with the Spokane Police Department to bring officers together with refugee and immigrant communities for an informal meal. These gatherings promote positive relationships and understanding between SPD officers and the refugee and immigrant communities.
To increase the availability of certified language interpreters and translators, RCS has collaborated with community partners to re-establish regular language certification testing in Eastern Washington, and to prepare bilingual refugees and immigrants for this test. Through our advocacy, the Washington State Department and Social Health Services (DSHS) now offers regular language certification testing in Eastern Washington. In addition, we have worked with community volunteers to present a course to prepare bilingual refugees and immigrants to take this test. This means more interpreters will be available to help those refugees and immigrants with limited English skills to communicate with service providers.
World Refugee Day
Refugee Connections Spokane (RCS) takes the lead in coordinating with nearly 12 other local organizations to host a community-wide celebration of local refugees for the annual United Nations World Refugee Day. The event includes traditional foods, hand-made crafts, customary dances, and a citizenship swearing in ceremony.
Refugee Elder Outreach
This program is dedicated to the empowerment of refugees and immigrants who came to the United States later in life. In addition to ensuring that elders are included in other RCS projects, RCS coordinates activities and events specifically tailored for refugee and immigrant elders. These include: basic ESL classes; civic-oriented "Settling Into Spokane" field trips; training in the use of public transportation; nutrition education; and participation in a community garden.
RCS created and now distributes health-record booklets for refugees and immigrants to bring with them to the emergency room and doctors' offices. Each booklet is in English and one of nine different translated languages. Patient Passports help people with limited English skills to communicate with health care providers to enhance their health and well-being. We make this resource available nationwide.