It has been one month since I started working as the Executive Director of KIAC. I always imagined it would be a very special place to work, but after these last weeks, I can share that it is much more special than I imagined. There is no job more rewarding than serving others, and being part of the KIAC team makes me proud and gives me a great sense of belonging.
I admire the commitment, dedication, and effort that our staff puts into assisting each and every one of our clients. Our commitment, together with that of the Board of Directors and our volunteers, represents hope in the lives of those who turn to us.
Here are some of the highlights for the month of October:
We continued providing medical clinics three times a month and dental clinics twice monthly. These clinics remain full each week. If you or someone you know needs these services, call (360) 616-2722 to make an appointment.
In order to strengthen our team and combine efforts, we recently held a professional retreat for all members of our Board of Directors and staff Leadership Team. It was an excellent opportunity for professional growth and sharing.
On October 31, we celebrated Halloween and welcomed several of our participants’ children to the KIAC office. They received candy and pumpkins to celebrate this holiday and made festive crafts.
We are completing applications for the Covid-19 Washington Immigrant Relief Fund until November 14, 2022. So far, we have filled out over 600 applications! If you or someone you know qualifies for this round of WIRF funding, visit our office or call (360) 616-2722.
KIAC’s Accredited Representatives continue to assist with a variety of immigration legal matters including naturalizations, asylum cases, and green card renewals, among others. We are experiencing record-high volumes of calls from immigrants seeking immigration legal representation and support.
I was forwarded an email exchange between our staff members and volunteer Accredited Representatives and lawyers. They exchanged recent success stories and we were heartened by all of the good news. One of our ARs wrote about her client, “On Tuesday, she walked into the Homeland Security Building as a legal permanent resident and out as a U.S. Citizen!”
We invite you to continue to stay in touch with our newsletters and social networks so you’re aware of the opportunities and services offered by KIAC. We thank you for your partnership over the years, and for your support that make this work possible.
Greetings to you all. This is the first time I have the honor of addressing each of you. My name is Jayson Vega, and I am a native of Puerto Rico. On September 19, I started working as Executive Director at Kitsap Immigrant Assistant Center, replacing Interim Executive Director Thangam Chandrasekaran, who did a masterful job leading our organization for the past nine months.
It is an honor to be part of this organization and to be able to lead an excellent group of professionals, who every day give their best to assist those who require our services. I accepted this new role with enthusiasm and hope, and with the certainty that our organization will build upon the successes of the past.
Here are a few highlights from September:
KIAC team members began outreach and application assistance as part of our contract with the Washington Immigrant Relief Fund (WIRF) — a fund advocated for by immigrants, for those immigrants impacted by the pandemic who did not qualify for existing assistance. KIAC applied for and was contracted, along with dozens of other community organizations around the state, to do outreach and assist immigrants in applying for relief checks. So far, we have completed over 300 applications totaling $300,000 in assistance for our immigrant neighbors. Applications close November 14. To find out more, visit immigrantreliefwa.org
We partnered with KiDiMu in early September for a space-themed event for KIAC’s youngest clients. Here at KIAC, books in both Spanish and Mam were read aloud for the kids to enjoy, and they colored pictures and put together paper solar systems.
Several KIAC team members have participated in outreach activities to talk about KIAC, the work we do in the communities we serve, and the challenges immigrants face in our region. Larry Chin, KIAC’s Legal Services Director presented at Enlighten Kitsap and Heron’s Key and Kimberly Cizek Allen, KIAC’s Development & Marketing Director spoke with the League of Women Voters and the Bremerton Rotary.
Thanks to your support, we continue improving and expanding our services. I urge you to continue supporting KIAC, our work team, our volunteers, but above all our immigrants who every day rise and contribute to the progress of our community.
I encourage you to watch our animated video about “KIAC the Hub” and make a gift today.
“The vote is precious. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.“
–John Lewis, member of the US House of Representatives for Georgia and late civil rights activist
Dear Friends of KIAC,
John Lewis’s quote about voting being the most powerful nonviolent tool we have resonated with me as I voted for the first time after having become a US citizen a few months ago. We witness so many acts of explicit and implicit violence around us — whether it’s the continuing war in Ukraine or the eroding of rights by the Supreme Court and individual states leading to violent outcomes for the people concerned. And while all the violence leaves one feeling helpless and impotent, the very process of voting is a truly incredible antidote to reinstating the power of each individual voice.
After the first round of primaries in early August, we witnessed the power of this nonviolent tool expressed by the voices of the voters in Kansas who vetoed an initiative that would have taken away their right of choice. I was excited and grateful to participate in this ritual that I could only observe from the sidelines prior to becoming a citizen. In doing so, I felt a part of the larger collective who were also expressing their voices through their votes.
I wanted to share a few highlights in July from the work we do at KIAC:
Over the past few months we have grown as an organization with 10 staff members at KIAC as of July. One recent addition to our staff is Alex who has joined as a Paralegal in Immigration Legal Services. Alex brings his lived experience as an immigrant and his trilingual skills to the passion and dedication for his work.
In addition to our regular weekday health and dental clinics, we continue to offer a Saturday clinic for those needing services who are unable to attend on a weekday. One of our medical clinic providers helps KIAC clients manage their diabetes. Learn more about that program by watching this video.
Our one-on-one services / drop-in resource center continues to see an increase in activity as immigrants reach out for resources:
Family Services staff members fielded over 200 phone calls in July and provided 43 in-person client appointments, for a total of over 150 unique households.
Healthcare or medical bills were topics during 109 of these conversations. Legal inquiries came up 29 times. And housing was an issue 24 times, in addition to other questions.
I cannot sign off without acknowledging that our work at KIAC would not be possible without your support. We remain grateful to you for expressing your voice through your continued support of KIAC.