Aloha From Your Executive Director, Ben
As most of you probably know aloha is a Hawaiian word used when greeting and parting from someone. It also means love and fellowship. It is in that spirit as of August first, I will officially step down as executive director of ISCU. I began this position 7 years ago as a volunteer with Pat Nolan and our former secretary Betsy Kruger. Pat continues to this day to help in the warehouse and with other administrative tasks. Betsy has moved to New Mexico to pursue her love of landscape painting. I think all of us would agree that together we have built an organization that is a model of what can be done when community members join to make a difference in the lives of those who have left their homelands seeking a better life for themselves and their families. I am proud of what Immigrant Services of C-U has become and I look forward to helping it become a standard bearer of an organization that takes on the most challenging areas of need for immigrants and assists them to become productive members of our community in a manner that respects their cultures and backgrounds and that facilitates their empowerment and resilience to the new and often difficult challenges they face.
My role in ISCU will be to return to my roots as a volunteer to help where assistance is most needed to support our continued growth and increased visibility among new stakeholders and potential resources. I will assist our new ED, staff, our board, and volunteers in the areas I feel are most needed. Let me briefly outline these priorities.
1. The growth and sustained development of “unrestricted funds” so that ISCU can continue
to support some of the most needed services that are rarely supported by grants and
contracts from our donors. Expenses related to our ISCU Warehouse or Family Assistance
Center have become a costly endeavor as the demand from numerous organizations and
their clients as well as the families we continue to support has exponentially grown in the
last year. Yet this is where we began as an organization as a place where the poorest
arriving could receive a bed and the furnishings to start their homes. It is vital that we
continue this important service to the refugee and immigrant families who need our goods
and warehouse services.
2. A second much-needed service has been provided by our transportation team who take our immigrants for appointments to the Chicago area, to Indiana, and to hospital locations outside of our county. Again, a number of organizations seek our help for their clients to get to these appointments that, absent our support, could result in orders for arrest and deportation or the inability to receive life-saving treatments. We have recently acquired a passenger van which will facilitate this service when volunteers are not available, but, in either case, the costs of providing this service are increasing as is the demand.
3. A third and important need is our emergency assistance fund which has over the years provided resources to families who have lost a loved one, provided expenses for legal or medical assistance, or other emergency situations that families often are facing.
I will continue to work as a volunteer to assist in the fundraising campaigns with potential new donors from the business and the University of Illinois communities to strengthen our visibility and secure unrestricted funds to support these three areas. Our strength has been the generous donations from our ISCU family of donors and faith-based organizations. I hope that my message will encourage many of you to make whatever contribution you can to help our new administration to have the support it needs to maintain these vital services that are the hallmark of what makes ISCU so important in the lives who come to call Champaign-Urbana their home.