IRC

International Rescue Committee Spotlight

Dec 31, 2022

Check out the December RIM Newsletter here.

Superheroes do exist and you’ll never guess where we found them: The International Rescue Committee. NACCHO had the opportunity to sit down with Lizbeth Gonzalez, Senior Health Program Manager for the Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona International Rescue Committee (IRC) branch. The IRC’s dedication to the refugee, immigrant, and migrant (RIM) community is truly heroic.

“We are a resettlement agency,” said Gonzalez. “We assist United Nation Refugees find their home, help with the employment services and all resettlements needs, but then of course we also have the health program.”

The IRC created and convened a RIM Health Advisory Board through the NACCHO grant. This advisory board gathered several community leaders with the hopes of “understand[ing] community needs, the strengths, and the barriers towards accessing COVID assistance and vaccination, prevention and education,” said Gonzalez.

Superhero event poster 1 3

The IRC has been involved in the RIM community for nearly 20 years. Gonzalez noted that they must be quick on their feet as information evolves and circumstances and resources in the community change. Through this grant, the IRC was able to connect refugees, immigrants, and migrants with resources they wouldn’t otherwise know they had- like vaccine clinics and COVID-19 educational resources. Gonzalez explained, “we’re already connected with the community because we serve immigrants, refugees and migrants, and specifically through this grant, we did a lot of outreach with communities in the middle east and Asia as well as with African Refugees.”

Lizbeth attributed most of their success to their community health workers (CHWs).

“I think that they’re the ones that made this program successful because of the trust that they had prior within their community but also [the trust that they] initiated by providing supportive services,” said Gonzalez.

They leveraged their CHWs to try and dispel COVID-19 myths amongst the RIM communities in Arizona.

IRC conducted Key Informant Interviews (KII) with RIM leadership as part of their NACCHO Grant. This information informed their programming and made them more responsive to community needs. The initial data from the KIIs showed there was a gap in knowledge about pediatric vaccines among RIM communities, therefore, IRC organized a Superhero back-to-school community/vaccination event. They promoted the event with the help of our RIM Health Advisory Board. 250 people attended the event, and 54 vaccines (Including 40 pediatric vaccines) were administered!

Check out their website here.


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