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April 14, 2015 

Dear IRCO Community and Supporters,

I am deeply humbled to serve as IRCO's new Executive Director. Even though I've been with IRCO for the last 34 years, it feels like just yesterday that I first walked through these doors.

To our invaluable supporters: I am incredibly grateful for your passion to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable populations, whether immigrants and refugees or the community at large. 


To our community and clients who look to IRCO as a resource: I will work with IRCO's Board and staff to ensure that IRCO continues to serve our diverse communities in the best way possible in the years to come.


I am very excited to guide IRCO forward and continue building the organization that our communities need. Please take a moment to read about some of our programs and clients and the many ways that you can get involved with us at IRCO!


Lee Po Cha, IRCO Executive Director


IRCO Youth Meet
Portland Trail Blazers!

More than 15 lucky youth from our INSPIRE Program had the opportunity to tour the Portland Trail Blazers practice facility on March 9. INSPIRE serves Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, Slavic and African 4th-8th graders in Portland schools. 

As part of the tour, students got to play basketball on the court and see the locker room - they were amazed by how big the players' shoes were! They also met the newest team members, Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee, who answered questions about college and told the students they could achieve anything if they worked hard enough. Damian Lillard even made an appearance! A special thanks to the Trail Blazers for making this exciting day possible!

Come Celebrate IRCO Africa House with Us!


Save the date for a wonderful night of celebrating our local African immigrant and refugee community!


Join us on Friday, June 5, from 6:30-10:00 p.m. for Growing Strong Together at the Ambridge Event Center in Portland. 


The festivities will include African cuisine, music, dance, and other aspects of the continent's diverse culture, including fashion and poetry. The evening will also offer several opportunities to raise funds for Africa House programs, including a live auction. Don't miss out on this exciting celebration!

You can buy your tickets online
 HERE. Tickets are $75, and tables are $750.

Our events always need 

in-kind donations: to learn more or donate, contact Jenny Bremner at or

API Fellows Graduate from Leadership Institute 
On March 21, 17 fellows graduated from the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Institute
(APICLI). Led by IRCO Asian Family Center in partnership with APANO, APICLI is one  of six culturally specific leadership development programs funded by Meyer Memorial Trust to cultivate community leaders and address racial and ethnic disparities. 

During the 2014-2015 program, APICLI fellows worked with a mentor to design a workshop and Community Action Project on issues including health, education, financial literacy, and job access. "I will continue serving the Korean community, especially those who struggle with health inequities," said Ran Yoon, when each fellow shared a leadership goal at the graduation ceremony. 
IRCO Client Spotlight

Clackamas Works: Bridging the Employment Gap


After opening Cedar & Moss, a high-end lighting company in Lake Oswego, Michelle Steinback looked to IRCO's Clackamas Works Program in hopes of fulfilling her staffing needs. First she hired Minerva, who had a temporary graveyard production position when she came to Clackamas Works for job search assistance. Originally from Mexico, Minerva didn't have a resume and lacked interview and job search skills. Michelle immediately offered Minerva a full-time job.


A few months later Michelle hired Gladys, who had been unemployed for more than a year when she enrolled with Clackamas Works. Having recently moved to the U.S. from Mexico, where she manufactured dental products, Gladys was struggling to find work. With IRCO's help, Gladys created a resume and practiced basic interviews skills in English. She was given a full-time manufacturing position, and as Cedar & Moss's new production manager, Minerva trained Gladys in Spanish. Gladys no longer depends on government assistance and her English is rapidly improving on the job.


Michelle has since hired two more women from the Clackamas Works Program, both dislocated worker immigrants from Mexico. IRCO's partnership with Cedar & Moss is bridging the gap between job seekers and employers, and Michelle's commitment to competitive wages and desire to empower women has created outstanding employment opportunities for Clackamas Works participants.    

IRCO Employee of the Year: Karen Smith

Karen Smith began her journey with IRCO in 2004, first assisting clients studying for the Nursing Assistant exam and then helping clients become Licensed Child Care Providers. She went on to do employment marketing for Employment Services. After a brief hiatus in 2011 - "I knew it was a mistake from the minute I left," she says - she returned to IRCO as a Workforce Specialist and has provided employment services to our clients ever since.

"She works tirelessly to remove her clients' barriers to success," one colleague said of Karen. Clients from years past visit her regularly to share their successes and seek her advice, and Karen's colleagues seek her input daily. "I bet Karen would know" is a common phrase around IRCO. 


Karen's fondest memories at IRCO? "The smiles on the kids' faces at the Children's Museum and the excitement from clients when they get their first job in the USA." Her clients adore her, her colleagues admire her, and IRCO is better because of her. 

IRCO's 2014 Annual Report
Click here for our new Annual Report, where you can find more client success stories and learn about IRCO's many programs and our accomplishments from 2014.  
Upcoming Events

April 22, 6-7 pm
May 6, 12-1 pm
May 20, 6-7 pm 

June 5
, 6:30-10 pm
Growing Strong Together: Africa House  Celebration!

June 9, 6-8 pm
Save the Date for IRCO's Volunteer Appreciation Event!

Follow Us
Outstanding Volunteer: 
Madeline Knoblauch
A retired accountant and former teaching aide at Mill Park Elementary School, Madeline has volunteered more than 1,150 hours over the last three years to IRCO's Social & Support Services for Educational Success. She conducts individual tutoring four times a week at Mill Park with more than 30 immigrant and refugee youth.
She also ran a Burmese summer academic camp and organizes small skill building events, like the jewelry party she held at IRCO over winter break.

Learn more about volunteering at
IRCO here!

Fred Meyer will donate money to IRCO every time you shop!

IRCO's Community Rewards number is 94496

Sign up for a Rewards Card  online or at any Fred Meyer Store. 


10301 NE Glisan St.
Portland, OR 97220