OUR MISSION is to equip our refugee neighbors with the network and skills needed to move from surviving to thriving in Charlottesville. We realize this mission through our programs that are focused on four essential areas: Home, Health, Community, and Career.
Of course, the needs of refugees who have fled their home countries are enormous. In many cases, our work with them from their arrival through achieving U.S. citizenship is all-encompassing and can’t fully be captured here. Learn more about these four program areas and how they directly aid our refugee neighbors.
Helping newcomers feel secure and redefine a sense of home
International Neighbors’ Home Program helps families address the pragmatic issues remaining after the initial resettlement process. Our goal is to help our neighbors develop a secure and comfortable foundation in their private homes (so important to us ALL!) as they continue to rebuild their lives and successfully adapt to the challenges of a new culture.
Programs in this area include:
Creating awareness of and access to existing healthcare resources
International Neighbors' Health and Wellness programs help our neighbors build knowledge and independent access to existing healthcare resources. While we are fortunate to live in a community abundant with healthcare options, learning to utilize these systems can be overwhelming for neighbors with limited English and little experience in receiving medical care through complex modern systems. Programs in this area include:
Navigating various healthcare systems can be difficult for lifelong Americans, so it is understandably difficult to master such a network in a foreign language. Many refugee families have insurance coverage of some sort, but they don’t always know how best to access that care. Having an English-proficient navigator to help neighbors access systems can be crucial, especially in a large setting like the UVa hospital, where many refugees receive primary care and specialist services. Providers usually have a phone translation service to communicate directly with patients during the appointment, but volunteers can help with follow-up scheduling, finding the lab if blood work is needed, check-in/check-out, filling a prescription, locating a pharmacy, and so forth.
Resettled refugees typically live on the bus routes in Charlottesville, but with work/childcare schedules and perhaps a stop at the pharmacy required after an appointment, navigating a routine appointment by bus alone can be a daunting all-day task. IN volunteers provide transportation when it is essential to and from medical appointments, and certainly enjoy getting to know our international neighbors better en route!
Gathering newcomers at events where they are welcomed and engaged
International Neighbors’ Community Connections programs are those that help families build social networks, enhance cross-cultural understanding, and develop lives in a new land in which they feel connected, welcomed, and engaged. Programs in this area include:
One of our most rewarding programs for neighbors and volunteers is being matched with a family or individual. Neighbors get together for social outings, celebrations, and mutually beneficial cross-cultural experiences. Language barriers can be partly overcome with warmth, charades, and use of iTranslate or Google Translate on your phone! As friendships grow, so does understanding and appreciation between neighbors of all backgrounds.
Involvement of children in extracurricular activities such as ballet, soccer, taekwondo, music, and summer or school break camps helps our neighbors in a myriad of ways. These programs assist with acquisition of language skills, cross-cultural situations, social networks, and positive engagement for children who may be unsupervised while parents are at work.
We are grateful to our wonderful community partners who offer many opportunities to International Neighbors! These programs help our neighbors acquire language, develop cross-cultural social navigation skills, build social networks, and engage children in positive and fun activities while their parents may be busy with other obligations." Are you a local business that is able to support our mission? Contact Us
Providing access to the skills and networks necessary to find sustainable employment
International Neighbors’ Skills for Success programs are those offered to adults in order to attain skills necessary for leading successful lives in America. Our Skills for Success programs include all of the areas outlined below, as well as assistance with accessing adult education and legal assistance on a case-by-case basis. Programs in this area include:
Resettled refugees and SIVs must rely on Charlottesville’s public transportation, which is not always convenient or reliable. Driving the Dream assists neighbors with earning their driver’s licenses, and receiving professional driving lessons as needed. International Neighbors also welcomes donations of reliable used cars! Donated cars have broadened opportunities for neighbors in employment, higher education, and community engagement. Driving the Dream fosters independence, and achievement of the American Dream.
Lack of fulfilling employment is common among those who were educated and trained in their home countries, but cannot continue their careers here in the US for a variety of reasons, including language and transportation barriers, or differences in licensing qualifications between the two countries. Volunteers advocate with community employers willing to hire so that neighbors can get better jobs, which lead to increased financial security, visibility in the community, and overall improved outlook. International Neighbors has also helped our neighbors get employment within walking distance of home, thus avoiding hours of wasted time en route via public transportation. Through a partnership with PVCC (Piedmont Virginia Community College), some of our neighbors have earned CDLs (Commercial Driver’s Licenses). Neighbors are also learning to become nurses, home child care providers, certified electricians, and school bus drivers.