A little more than one-third of the residents in Stamford, Connecticut, are immigrants, and although many have jobs, many don’t speak English well enough to function fully in the US.
Enter the community-based nonprofit Neighbors Link Stamford, founded in 2011, whose programs are staffed mainly by volunteers who have been able to reach more than 4,000 of the community’s 22,000 recent immigrants so far. The organization’s strategy has three prongs for strengthening the whole community.
- Educating immigrants in English, computer usage, and other classes
- Developing their job skills and providing a center to match workers with available jobs
- Empowering individuals and families to connect with schools, health, legal, law enforcement, and other vital services
“We develop a very well-rounded and comprehensive program,” said Anka Badurina, the organization’s job skills development director, because the group’s volunteers and directors soon realized the clients they were helping in the community had needs that went beyond learning English and how to use a computer.
As a result, the organization has developed courses in physical wellness, culinary arts, citizenship, sewing, and a variety of other education programs aimed at helping immigrants become better fit to work at real jobs in the community and just to participate in real life in Stamford and their new US home.
“It’s really about developing programs that encircle everything about what makes you a stronger individual,” said Chinon Marie Williams, the volunteer manager. “It is a place that serves as a second home for many people. It feels like a family; it’s warm, and it’s inviting. And we really are about making a difference in the community.”
“We are all building one community,” the organization posted on its Facebook timeline after receiving a donation a few days ago to help build its literacy programs.