Fostering Regional Collaboration: Immigrant & Refugee Services

claire-hundelt-picture

Claire Hundelt, Program Manager, Daughters of Charity Foundation of Saint Louis

Gateway Center for Giving Member Blog Post

by Claire V. Hundelt, Program Manager with the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis

The Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis has been actively engaged in supporting organizations that help immigrants and refugees with the many challenges of their new lives in America. In the spring of 2014, the Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis, Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis, and the Saint Louis Mental Health Board hosted three gatherings to convene area provider groups serving immigrants and refugees. The purpose was threefold: to strengthen the work provided to our region’s aspiring Americans by increasing the networking and relationships among professionals and key stakeholders; to enhance understanding of the gaps in safety net provisions available; and encourage proactive planning to prepare the community for changes to the nation’s immigration policies. The gatherings confirmed that efforts underway to serve this population were increasing as new programs were being introduced resulting in knowledge gaps about available resources. The outcome  of these gatherings was the formation of an all-volunteer community-based group of concerned professionals and citizens known as Immigrant Service Provider Network or ISPN.

With nearly thirty members, ISPN has since formalized its structure by identifying executive committee leadership, creating bylaws, and forming working groups. Since 2015, this all-volunteer network has developed membership support and strategic outreach, started a resource directory, implemented a community education and enrollment outreach designed to explain the DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) programs. Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) serves as the primary convener and fiscal conduit for project activities. With MIRA’s support, ISPN has offered free of charge educational clinics to help prepare immigration documents and delivered webinars on topics including Immigration 101, employment, and DAPA training. The coalition also created a website and developed education materials.

The funder collaborative between Daughters of Charity Foundation of St. Louis and Lutheran Foundation continues to support the staff position at MIRA assigned to actively support ISPN outreach as well as host for the ISPN work groups. The collaborative between MIRA and the ISPN participants has led to a leadership development strategy to strengthen member and volunteer capacities for effective action.  As a result of ISPN’s work in the community approximately 450 individuals were served in 2016.

Click on one of the following links to learn more:

http://www.mira-mo.org/ispn/join-us/

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/new-groups-help-immigrants-refugees-find-their-way-services-st-louis#stream/0

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