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World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day, international observance on June 20th of every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. According to the UNHCR, forced displacements tops 70 million globally, the largest in the organization’s 70-year history. (Source: UNHCR)

Here at Tacoma Community House (TCH), we continue to provide a safe place for our refugee communities to thrive. We learn from our refugee community members through their strength, courage, and resilience. With compassion, TCH will always stand with refugees because we are stronger together. In 2018, TCH served more than 100 refugees from multiple countries.

Interested in supporting our work, make a contribution today.

Project I-DEA

The Education Department at Tacoma Community House launched a pilot program, Project I-DEA, with the intent to increase digital, career and college-readiness skills of adult English students. The Integrated Digital English Acceleration (I-DEA) Program targets adult learners in the lowest levels in English as a Second Language classes.  Supported by the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, TCH is in the third year of the program in collaboration with all community and technical colleges.

Students have access to new laptops and technology – enhanced resources thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. ELA (English Language Acquisition) students are learning through a flipped model, where they do pre-work before coming to class to practice their skills. Lessons are broken into modules and students do about eight hours of one-on-one time a week – with an additional eight hours of work at home.

Even though we are in the first quarter of a three-quarter pilot, students seem to be enjoying the class. Amy Diehr, Education Services Director says, “We are all learning this quarter.  Students are learning how to use a computer and learn English while staff are learning how to wrap lessons with pre-work rather than homework.”

Project I-DEA already shows great promise. By the end of the program, I-DEA learners will increase their English language, digital skills and progress along career and college pathways toward family-wage jobs.

Interested in supporting our work? Make a contribution today.

Meet Corey

Former education participant, Corey, returned to Tacoma Community House recently to show his gratitude to the community that encouraged him to take and pass the GED® tests. Corey explained that he dropped out of high school in D.C. during his junior year. He fell behind in his studies and eventually slipped so low that he gave up. Corey spent some years in the state of Washington as an adolescent, so when he moved back, he began taking Adult Basic Education classes at TCH in September 2012. It was “redo part two” for Corey. He decided to come to TCH because his father had taken classes here as well.

Corey credits his teacher at TCH, saying, “I only had one class and that was for science, math, reading. I only had one teacher, and she was definitely great! I was only in the course for maybe two or three weeks. I was scoring high on the pre-test she gave me,
so she told me to go take the GED® tests. She told me, ‘just go.’ I went and I passed the first time!”

Corey is currently attending Tacoma Community College and focusing on Communications and Broadcasting. “I want to one day be a news broadcaster. No, not for sports. I would hope to be an anchor.” He shared that he aspires to do meaningful work like Oprah Winfrey.

He encourages others to further their education and pursue their dreams. “For anyone that still has time to get your education from elementary, middle, and high school I strongly recommend you to do all of that while you can. That’s something that I wish I would’ve known before.”

GED® classes are held Monday through Thursday and serve students in Washington state. The Adult Basic Education (ABE) program helps students with basic skills as well as GED® level work. 

Interested in supporting individuals like Corey, make a contribution today.

Finally Belonging, by TCH Client Reysis Alonso

On Friday, April 10, 2015, Tacoma Community House (TCH) celebrated 105 years of making positive change in the lives of refugees, immigrants and low income families in the south Puget Sound. Over 500 guests gathered at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, and were reminded, through storytelling and statistics of TCH’s reach and impact, of why it takes all of us doing what we can to ensure that all people have access to opportunities that will help them reach their fullest potential. That we are in this together, that one person’s success is the success of all, was the message at the heart of TCH participant Reysis Alonso’s speech which she shared at the Annual Luncheon. If you were not able to be there or need to be reminded of how powerful her words were, we invite you to read her story.           

Buenas Tardes. Good afternoon. My name is Reysis Alonso, and I would like to say thank you for being here today. I am Cuban. When I was 13 years old my family and I moved to Venezuela in search for freedom and a better life. The 21 years I spent in Venezuela was hard and it became harder when the government turned communist. There were no opportunities and I was barely surviving with my daughter.

My dream was to always move to the United States and in 2004 my dream came true. I was happy because of the hope that was here for me and many other immigrants looking for liberty like myself.

I am a proud Army wife. For 7 years I have moved with the Army to several cities and I have never known a place like Tacoma Community House. I reached Washington on August 18, 2014. I was looking for a place to study English. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website recommended TCH as one of the best places to study English. Caring for a family of 5 is not easy on our budget, but I knew I could study English at TCH because it is not expensive.  For the last 6 months, I have been taking ESL classes and to my surprise TCH does more than teach English. They help people find jobs, they help with immigration and because of TCH, I am on the pathway to citizenship. I also got a job with Home Depot.

Because of your support, I feel better speaking English. I can communicate better with my kids and I feel more secure with myself. Because of your support, I have a job and I finally feel like I have gained independence. I will soon become a citizen of my country, the United States. At Tacoma Community House, I had the chance to go to Olympia and ask lawmakers to keep our programs. I got to motivate my immigrant friends to keep up the good work.  I will soon be able to vote. My voice will matter and I will finally belong.

There is no place like Tacoma Community House. This place has been the solution for my life. My story is unique, but so are the stories of the thousands of people TCH serves. This is about all of us. Please continue to support this beautiful and important work of Tacoma Community House.  Thank you for everything! Gracias por todo!

Interested in helping families like Reysis’? Support our work by making a contribution today.