By Emma Tobin
Managing Director, IINE-Lowell
Seven weeks ago, the IINE community in Lowell faced an enormous challenge: the families we serve were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but we could no longer provide them with critical services, face to face, as we’ve done for 102 years. We knew we needed to adapt to a new way of serving of our community – providing case management, employment support, English classes, legal immigration services, and beyond – without coming together physically. Staff at IINE Lowell have spent the past two months developing and refining creative ways to provide services to refugees and immigrants remotely. It hasn’t all worked perfectly, but we are already seeing the impact of these new service delivery models. And, as you can imagine, our team cherishes client successes now more than ever.
I’d like to introduce you to two inspiring Lowellians.
Mary has been a student in our English language program for six months. She faced transportation challenges and struggled with attendance, which hindered her learning. Since IINE began delivering Beginner English and Literacy classes online, Mary has not missed a single day. With one-on-one instruction from Education Manager, Sherry Spaulding, as well as support from Kendra Kelley and Lizette Greaves, dedicated ESOL volunteers, Mary has started to read and write for the first time in her life.
Farid is a young man from Syria who arrived in the U.S. with his elderly parents. He has worked hard to learn English and to become the official Personal Care Attendant (PCA) for his mom and dad. This past month, Farid achieved that goal, and can now care for them safely at home, while also earning essential income for his family. Next, he hopes to participate in IINE’s Certified Nursing Assistant training program, and pursue a career in healthcare.
Our team is working remotely, but these success stories – and so many others – bring us together in the midst of the crisis. Every day, we see examples of the outstanding generosity that surrounds us – our clients, who support each other; our staff, who work tirelessly on behalf of our clients; and the Lowell community, which has supported IINE in so many ways during this unprecedented time.