All posts by Ray Garrido

ED Announcement

Dear Friends of KIAC,

We are happy to announce that Jayson Vega López joined our team this week as KIAC’s Executive Director! As Jayson steps into the role, he will inherit a stable organization that has greatly expanded its services over the last several years. 

This past year, KIAC’s Interim Executive Director Thangam Chandrasekaran has continued KIAC’s transition from being a small nonprofit staffed almost entirely by volunteers, to a thriving organization with a growing paid staff that works with and coordinates our volunteers to provide a wide array of immigration legal, family and business services to over 2,000 immigrants annually. 

Jayson comes to KIAC with extensive experience in public service work, with the past fifteen years focused on housing equity. Jayson moved to Bremerton earlier this year from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and brings a bilingual skillset to his leadership experience. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and has used his education to work with the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce, the Sociedad Pro Niños Sordo’s de Puerto Rico and most recently, the Bremerton Housing Authority.

When asked what he looks forward to the most about this new role, Jayson said, “When you arrive in this country and you don’t have much or know what is available to you, having a place like KIAC is a true gift. Using my skillset to be of service to immigrants is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I am excited to join the KIAC team.”

Welcome, Jayson, to the KIAC team. We are so glad you’re here to build upon the hard work and successes of KIAC’s past.

In gratitude for your partnership in our work,

Althea Paulson, Board Vice President

We stand with the people of afganistan

We at KIAC are paying close attention to the events unfolding in Afghanistan. Like all of you, we are heartbroken for the human beings caught in this humanitarian crisis, especially women, girls and LGBTQ+ Afghans.

We are in touch with the national immigration legal community, and have heard detailed reports from lawyers with clients in Afghanistan. The situation is fluid and chaotic. For now, most of the legal assistance is being provided on the ground in Afghanistan, in order to help those who have worked for the U.S. apply for visas or humanitarian parole so they are able to travel to the United States.

The Puget Sound region will be receiving an influx of refugees in the next days and weeks. There are numerous ways you can help with their resettlement. Both temporary and long-term housing is an urgent priority. Additionally, volunteers are needed to provide host homes, transport people from the airport, help settle people into apartments or assist with English language classes. Donations of household and other necessities, and cash donations are also needed.
Image by World Relief Seattle
Here are some tremendous organizations that are providing assistance, and all of them need volunteers and financial support.

The International Rescue Committee: This agency has a webpage with updated on-the-ground information, wish lists of items to purchase for “Welcome Kits,” a link to volunteer opportunities and other suggestions.  

World Relief, Seattle: This agency is calling for volunteers and donations, and has information for the Afghan community as well as volunteers and partners.  

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: This organization is seeking volunteers for airport pickups, mentoring, tutoring, and meal deliveries. They also need financial donations.

Jewish Family Services, Seattle: They have created an Amazon wish list for household items and other necessities. They are also looking for car seats, and are accepting financial donations.

Afghan Health Initiative: This group provides access and support for physical and mental health services, as well as direct financial assistance to newly arrived refugees.

Afghan American Community of Washington: This group provides religious, cultural and social support to the Afghan community while they are adapting to American society.

Miles4Migrants accepts donated airline frequent flyer miles, credit card points and cash to help people reunite with loved ones or resettle in a new country after fleeing their own country imperiled by war, persecution or disaster.
Image by International Rescue Committee
In addition to volunteering and donating, all of us can provide a welcome to these new arrivals in simple ways. We can advocate with national or local government to provide assistance to these refugees, start a conversation with a neighbor about the importance of providing safety and kindness to people who find themselves in a terrifying situation over which they have no control, or write a supportive letter to a local newspaper. Navid Hamidi, a former advisor to the U.S. military who is now the Executive Director of the Afghan Health Initiative, has the most direct advice of all: “Just be welcoming.”

In solidarity,

The KIAC Team