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July 1, 2014 
Dear Friend,

Summer greetings!


We've had a very busy summer so far with our IRCO Africa House Open House & Volunteer Appreciation Event, lots of new grant awards and hosting our Community Needs Assessment Conference! 


Read on for more news about IRCO's clients, programs and events and we hope to see you at our Faces of IRCO: Iraq event on August 7th!


Newly Arrived Family Receives Support From IRCO

"My family thanks IRCO for helping us in our new life!"

My name is Hamed Neshar. I am the oldest of 5 children. We were all born in a refugee camp in Thailand, but we are Rohinga people from Myanmar.  We arrived in the U.S. in January 2009, just one year after my maternal grandparents also arrived in Portland.  We immediately enrolled in school and my parents started getting job placement help from the NAES program, PET English classes and an IRCO volunteer in-home tutor, who is now our family friend.  Later, the EES program helped my mom gain a full-time position in housekeeping and she is now a shift supervisor. My dad has had a seasonal job for the last 3 years that gives him retirement benefits. My grandparents participate in the Senior Services programs at IRCO which helped them gain their citizenship in January 2014. Both my parents only completed 1st grade in Myanmar. In June 2014, I became the first person in my family to graduate from high school. It wasn't always easy. My entire family is very proud! I started high school in the U.S. after only completing the 3rd grade. For now, I plan to start working hard and developing a career so that I can help my family financially, then maybe go to college later.  I encourage my younger brothers and sisters to work hard in school so that they will also graduate and have an opportunity to go to college.  IRCO programs have helped us adjust to life in the U.S. by connecting us to local people and opportunities.


IRCO Staff Spotlight: Sabrina Biffer


IRCO would like to recognize Sabrina Biffer's outstanding contributions to our community. Not only is Sabrina an instructor for IRCO's Pre-Employment Training program and a microenterprise specialist with our Oregon Refugee Childcare Microenterprise program, but she is also an amazing photographer - and the one that all of us at IRCO have come to rely on. Her photography authentically and journalistically documents our events, clients, and work, capturing candid and artistic images that illuminate our proud traditions. Through the lens of her camera, Sabrina discovers and promotes the true stories taking place at IRCO. 


From all of us at IRCO, we wish to thank her. To learn more about Sabrina's photography, check out her work on IRCO's Facebook page ( or her website, Sabrina Biffer Photography (

IRCO's Ever-Expanding Programs

With exciting developments made possible by new funding from the Portland Children's Levy, IRCO's unique programming continues to grow! As we create new programs and enhance existing ones, we strengthen our ties with refugee and immigrant communities and keep supporting kids and families who would otherwise fall through the cracks.


We'll be adding three new SUN Community School sites - at Vestal and Ventura Park Elementary Schools and Parkrose Middle School - and launching a refugee and immigrant child abuse prevention and intervention program, which will seek to strengthen skills and resilience for parents and families.


IRCO's INSPIRE program will broaden to help middle school students transition to high school, and IRCO's mentoring program RIM (formerly AIM) will expand to serve not only African but all refugee and immigrant youth. IRCO's Children and Parents Success Program (CAPS) will be restored to earlier service levels. Keep up with IRCO's one-of-a-kind programs at!

Upcoming Events
August 7

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Outstanding Volunteer:
Tammy Tran


"Tammy has volunteered for our Parenting Department programs for over 5000 Hours!! She is an invaluable asset to our programs." - Danita Huynh, Children's Services Manager 


Learn more about volunteering at IRCO here

Healthy Start/Healthy Families Gives Hope to First-Time Parents

IRCO's Healthy Start/Healthy Families program provides multicultural, multilingual family support and parent education services. In the last 6 years, the program has made intensive home visits to more than 490 mainstream and culturally diverse families with children ages 0-3, serving at least 10 different language groups.
"When I'm thinking of Healthy Start, the first thing that comes in my mind is hope," said L.S., an immigrant mother and program participant. "When my child was born, he was diagnosed as a high risk baby and my whole world crashed... Healthy Start gave me back the hope that I am not alone, that I have strength as a parent, and that I have goals to fight for." While the program currently serves first-time parents, it plans to expand in the next year to support multiple-birth families and children through age 5. Learn more about the Healthy Start/Healthy Families services here.

International Language Bank's Interpretation

For more than 30 years, IRCO's International Language Bank (ILB) has been providing culturally appropriate interpretation services. Now one of the most unique and respected language providers in the area, ILB interpreters specialize in languages spoken by Portland's refugee communities, such as Amharic, Burmese, and Cambodian. "Portland Public Schools serves over 100 languages and 85 schools," said David Lee of PPS, an ILB client since 2001. "ILB provides excellent interpretation services to PPS's limited English proficiency students and families. The dedicated staff is willing to go the extra mile to meet the needs of language minorities." For more about  ILB's language services, call 503-234-0068 or visit


Summer Camp for Immigrant & Refugee Youth
For immigrant and refugee youth, summer camp can be a transformative experience, building confidence and social, academic and language skills. Through community partnerships, IRCO's RIFE program was able to offer 54 scholarships valued at over $39,000 and an additional $4,200 in cash donations to support low-income families with youth participating in local summer camps. This summer, youth from around the world will attend Camp Westwind, Girls Inc, Camp Collins, Saturday Academy, Grace Institute, Young Entrepreneurs Business Week, Northwest Film Institute, Portland Children's Museum and Pacific Northwest College of Art. "He was so excited when he returned from the camp!" said one parent, "this is the best thing that has happened to my son since we came to the US!" 



IRCO Senior Services Offers New Foot Care Scholarship

In addition to connecting immigrant and refugee elders to the services they need, IRCO Senior Services serves elders from mainstream communities like Marcine Herinck, one of the first recipients of IRCO's new Foot Care Scholarship. "When I got the call that I had won a scholarship, I said I don't deserve this. I wasn't expecting it at all," Marcine remembers. "I walked in with pain in my feet and walked out with no pain, feeling very relaxed and happy. I want to thank IRCO for promoting the Foot Care Scholarship." The scholarship program is funded by donations and gives seniors a free one-time treatment at the Foot Care Clinic, which is run by Healthy Feet registered nurses. Learn more about what's happening at IRCO's Senior Services here.

IRCO | | | 10301 NE Glisan St.
Portland, OR 97220
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Thank you for your interest in IRCO! Please join us for our next informational workshop, Faces of IRCO: Iraq, August 7th at 6:00pm at IRCO. Free. Register here.