MMCC’s Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors Teams assist local immigrants in navigating U.S. life and culture. We strive to help our new neighbors meet basic needs, access essential services, find social supports, and experience a warm welcome to our shared community.
WHO WE ARE
WIN-Bangor consists of a group of volunteers who are dedicated to improving the lives of new Mainers and assisting them in working through the challenges they face when arriving in our community. The WIN volunteers are a diverse group of people from a variety of backgrounds and countries who support immigrants as they navigate unfamiliar health care systems, school systems, housing issues, transportation challenges, immigration issues, legal concerns, etc.
We have a very personalized system of providing support and services. Each immigrant or immigrant family who contacts us and wishes to have a support team is paired with a small group of two to four volunteers who work specifically with that family. All volunteers attend a training session prior to being assigned to a family so that they are comfortable with their roles and responsibilities. This structure allows for the development of a strong bond between the immigrant families and the WIN support teams. See below for a more detailed description of the support teams.
How we work
Support Teams and a larger “Village”
MMCC’s Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors Program is based on small support teams, who work with New Mainers to help identify needs, problem solve as necessary, and be available as needed. These volunteers receive an initial training from WIN’s volunteer coordinator. All of us are “amateurs” rather than “case-workers,” learning together how to offer support and access resources an individual or family might need.
These teams in turn can solicit help from a wider MMCC/WIN circle of support for a range of help that this “village” might provide: rides, furniture, (fill in with more..), translators, tips on this or that.
MMCC’s WIN teams can also rely on a wider network of Maine Multicultural Center’s volunteers and staff to help families navigate the often confusing processes of school registrations, healthcare applications, general assistance forms, immigration questions, etc. MMCC also develops relationships with the spectrum of resources and agencies in the community to facilitate New Mainers ability to access what they need.
Since all New Mainer and the challenges they face are not the same, we continue to “make the path by walking,” with each other and with our New Mainer families as different situations and needs arise.
Helping The Community
The problems faced by New Mainers are often multiple, whether related to housing, employment, education, transportation, cultural adaptation, need for community, immigration issues, child-care, legal, healthcare… and more.
In our experience, the mix of challenges frequently don’t fit neatly into specific “social service’ categories. Moreover, the way New Mainers view and prioritize what they need may be different from what we who would welcome them might at first think.
Our approach to Welcoming
First and foremost, is for small support teams to befriend, and listen.
Relationship building then enables trust, honesty, and the ability to accompany WIN families is accessing what they feel they most need.
In the process, WIN volunteers themselves are treated to friendships and experiences with folks they might otherwise never have met.