Louisa French, Resettlement and Employment Training Volunteer, IINE-Lowell
Over the past five years, Louisa French has volunteered at the International Institute of New England’s Lowell site office in nearly every capacity. From organizing in-kind donations to setting up newly-arrived families’ apartments, she plays a significant role in welcoming newcomers to Lowell.
Louisa’s personal interest in humanitarian work stems from her time providing policy guidance to third-world nations at the Harvard Institute for International Development. This interest led her to the Institute where she supports refugee resettlement, case management, and cultural orientation programs. Leveraging 15 years of experience as a Human Resources professional, Louisa teaches a weekly employment readiness class known as the “Job Club,” which is held every Friday. During these sessions, Louisa educates predominately Swahili and Arabic speaking clients on interviewing, time management, industry-specific vocabulary, administrative tasks, and U.S. labor laws. In addition to providing practical job readiness skills, the course gives clients an extra opportunity to practice English.
Louisa finds volunteering deeply gratifying and enjoys seeing clients progress through the Institute’s services.
In the first six months of the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2016, over 200 people have volunteered at the Institute, contributing nearly 13,000 hours of service to the Institute’s refugee and immigrant clients. The generosity of volunteers like Louisa is critical to the Institute’s work of helping new Americans contribute to their new communities.