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Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | DECEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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As Iowa Citians, we are proud of our open, vibrant, culturally diverse community. We always welcome people from a wide variety of backgrounds at the University of Iowa as well as students new to the School District. It is time for us to broaden our welcome to those of different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We believe that having a social support in the wider community gives low-income, minority families a feeling of belonging necessary to making Iowa City their home.

There are a number of organizations and services in Iowa City that assist low-income individuals new to Iowa City in finding basic resources such as employment, housing, childcare, education, etc. The Family-to-Family Partnership Program provides more intangible but equally important resources: friendship and a support network.

The Family-to-Family Partnership Program is an AmeriCorps Each One Reach One Project of the Consultation of Religious Communities. It is a peer-to-peer mentoring program that partners established community families (Support Families) with low-income families new to the Iowa City area (Partner Families). The mentoring program was realized out of the unmet need to help new, low-income and minority families create a home in Iowa City.

We are currently seeking volunteers dedicated to improving the lives of families new to Johnson County. Support Family volunteers are friendly, enthusiastic, caring people who are eager to share their insights about leading successful lives in Iowa City. The program is open to all families of any makeup; they may have gone through a similar transition to Partner Families, or they may just want to share insights about living in Iowa City. Volunteering as a Support Family serves as an opportunity to give back to the community, gain insights and perspectives from people of different backgrounds, and make new friends.

Families make a commitment to meet for four hours each month for 12 months, working on personal goals, exploring opportunities in Iowa City, and above all, building a trusting friendship. Matches also attend monthly Family Nights at the Spot for a free meal, free childcare, interactive community-building sessions, and educational programming.

We are also looking for volunteers who would like to offer more short-term assistance in the form of transportation to medical appointments, childcare, filling out applications, etc.

Family-to-Family has partnerships with a number of community organizations including the Dream Center, Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County, the Housing Fellowship, the Spot, and Shelter House.

Abby Jessen
program coordinator, Family-to-Family Partnership Program


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