“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.
In January of this year, I began my role as Interim Executive Director at KIAC. It has truly been my absolute privilege and pleasure working towards KIAC’s mission, both these last seven months and for the prior two years as a legal volunteer and member of the Board of Directors. My time as Interim ED will be coming to an end this fall, and we are excitedly beginning the search for KIAC’s permanent Executive Director.
In my application and during my interviews back in December, I had expressly committed to accomplishing certain goals by June as KIAC continued its movement from being a volunteer-led to a staff-led and volunteer-supported organization. They include:
Operations and finance: Completed a smooth transition of operations including onboarding accountants, streamlining payroll and front office practices, and setting up controls for payments and receipts of monies into KIAC.
Fundraising and donor engagement: Upgraded to a new donor management system, continued successful fundraising (including a record-breaking Kitsap Great Give), launched a regular communication strategy via emails and social media, executed the 2021 Annual Report and completed numerous grant applications.
Long term strategy and planning: Applied to and accepted by the Service Corps Project with the UW Foster School of Business which conducted a study on potential fundraising strategies for KIAC. The valuable learnings from this study will be incorporated into the fund development plans for 2023 and beyond.
Transition from volunteer-led to staff-led and volunteer-supported: KIAC’s staff has grown these last seven months with the addition of an Administrative Assistant and a Paralegal. We are working on a comprehensive benefits package and are making strides to secure funding to attract and retain staff through livable wages.
We are working on plans to ensure a seamless transition later this year. In collaboration with KIAC’s Leadership Team, the ED Search Committee has worked thoughtfully and deliberately to decide on the skillset and characteristics most necessary for this role. You can see the job description and posting here.
We will be advertising this position on a variety of platforms, but we know that KIAC’s next Executive Director might very well come from within the partners who make this work possible and the communities we serve and are accountable to. Please feel free to share this opportunity with those you know.
I know that KIAC is in capable hands as we begin this transition. My time with KIAC both as staff and volunteer have been the most rewarding and productive, and I remain grateful for this opportunity.
Thangam Chandrasekaran, Interim Executive Director
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
― Margaret Mead
Dear Friends of KIAC,
At a time when much around us is changing and feels out of control, our work reminds us that we are able to make changes, small and large, in the lives of the individuals and families that we work with at KIAC.
Here are a few updates from KIAC for the month of June:
KIAC conducted a carseat event with the help of Eastside Baby Corner. We did seat checks for 28 children, in 13 families, that came in 12 different vehicles. EBC distributed 19 car seats or booster seats to these children.
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.