We envision a Story County in which immigrants and refugees are valued and fully included as a vibrant force in our communities.
The Story County Immigrant & Refugee Collaboration brings together diverse organizations and individuals. Collectively, we work to ensure immigrant and refugee households have access to the services and opportunities necessary to full participation in our communities. This involves:
- engaging immigrants and refugees and building on our/their experiences to identify issues and develop solutions
- enhancing communication between organizations serving immigrants and refugees to build on each other’s efforts
- collaborating with others to provide direct service
- raising awareness
- advocating for policies and practices that promote full participation
ACCESS, Ames Interfaith Refugee Alliance (AIRA), Ames Jewish Congregation (Social Action), Ames Sanctuary Interfaith Partners (ASIP), Ames UCC, Bethesda Lutheran, Bridges International, Collegiate United Methodist, County Coordinating Committee, Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance, St. Cecilia, St. Thomas Aquinas, Also includes unaffiliated community members. Convened by United Way of Story County.
History of Story County Immigrant and Refugee Collaboration
Today’s Story County Immigrant and Refugee Collaboration began in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Iowa. At that time, United Way of Story County pulled together multiple organizations and individuals to discuss how best to address a new, pressing need: financial assistance for immigrants and refugees, many of whom were not eligible or struggled to access government pandemic benefits. Within a few busy weeks, the Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Story County Immigrants was born.
Housed at St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Ames, the “Immigrant Fund” (as it was colloquially known) operated from March 2020 thru December 2021. In that time, $374,235 was raised and disbursed to local immigrant households in 1,028 rent and utility payments. Key to this success were volunteer multilingual caseworkers working directly with immigrant households, community volunteers who functioned as “landlord liaisons,” and support from individuals and philanthropic and faith-based organizations. For this work, the Immigrant Fund was honored with both the Ames Human Relations’ Commission’s “Ames Humanitarian Award 2022” and United Way of Story County’s “Collaboration and Innovation Award 2020.” In addition, it was featured on TV, radio, and in multiple news stories (for example: “Story County pandemic fund helps immigrants shut out from US aid: ‘These people have been miracles’ “; “Fund raises over a quarter-million” ).
On December 14, 2021, the Immigrant Fund changed its name to the “Story County Immigrant and Refugee Collaboration” and adopted a shared vision and mission. Having developed strong working relationships through the Fund, we have a great foundation on which to build.
*Note: The Korean, Chinese, and Arabic guides were translated by community volunteers in 2021. Some information may not be current.*