For newcomers, settling into and becoming part of a community presents many challenges: securing a job, finding a place to live, enrolling children in school and often attempting to learn a new culture and a new language, among others. The Colorado Trust selected Summit County as one of 10 Colorado communities to participate in the Immigrant Integration phase of its 9-year (2000-2009), $13.7 million Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative (SIRFI). The Colorado Trust’s Immigrant Integration effort aims to build communities that are a productive and cohesive whole – a reflection of the cultural, religious and political diversity of all its members.In 2005, the Trust granted the FIRC $5,000 for the planning phase of the initiative. This phase consisted of a large community forum and multiple community meetings, during which a comprehensive integration plan was developed.A power point presentation or “roadshow” was then presented across the county to numerous groups, agencies, town councils and other leadership groups to get feedback about the plan. The plan was presented to the Trust this fall and recently approved, with the contract beginning Jan. 1, 2006. With approval, last month we hired the Integration Liaison, who will implement aspects of the plan. This grant is for $75,000 a year for the next four years. The integration plan is only partially funded by The Colorado Trust, with the expectation that the community will participate in the funding and implementation of the plan. The FIRC operates three programs:• Families United: Formerly known as Warm Welcome, Summit County Parents as Teachers and Familias Unidas. Families United is a universal home visitation program available to all parents with children between the ages of 0 and 5. Basic information about child development, parenting and community resources are made available to the family during the visit. Families with identified risk factors will receive more intensive home visitation based on the Parents As Teachers curriculum. Parenting classes and group meetings with various topic areas will be available to all program participants. • General Assistance: The FIRC provides translation services, resource and referral, cultural adjustment and emergency financial assistance to any resident of Summit County. Financial assistance may include rental, energy, medical, dental, transportation or other appropriate short term assistance, as well as provisions from the food bank. All clients are screened and the program is based on a strengths based model of service delivery. Clients are empowered to make better choices around general needs. • Summit Thrift & Treasure: STT is a nonprofit thrift store that recycles furniture, clothing and house wares and provides them to the community at an affordable price. In 2005, the FIRC provided more than $200,000 in direct emergency assistance to Summit County residents. The various programs reach over 10,000 residents annually. The FIRC’s marketing efforts include Kultural Kaleidoscope, Lunes Latina, Celebrations Around the World, http://www.summitfirc.org, multiple articles in the Summit Daily News, presentations of The Faces of Summit County DVD, and Microphone Marathon and other collaborative fundraisers. The FIRC staff and board of directors participate in numerous community boards, task forces, advisory groups and strive to inform our community about our mission and the services we provide. The FIRC is a private, nonprofit community resource for all Summit County residents and has been recognized statewide as an outstanding family center.
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