In 1989, the Irish International Immigrant Center was officially established by a group of people who knew well the particular challenges immigrants faced – they were Irish immigrants themselves, and new to Boston. Twenty-five years later, what began as a voluntary helpline is now a vibrant, welcoming center that has directly assisted more than 35,000 immigrants and young Irish learning exchange students over the year, and has provided guidance to thousands more by phone, online, and in the pages of the Irish Emigrant.
Rena Cody and Odette Harrington, a couple of the founding members of the IIIC, recently shared these thoughts regarding IIIC’s 25 years of service:
“The vision of the founding members and there were many of us, was to keep the organization diverse in its services and to be open and pluralistic in serving individuals and families from all immigrant communities regardless of creed or color. That was and is the spirit of America. We were glad to play our own part with so many others in creating an organization that that has not only survived, but adapted and thrived in new and changing circumstances over the years. Not easy as a small organization. We are grateful for all that we learnt in the process, the wonderful people we met and remain friends with.”
Last year, the IIIC provided legal, wellness, education, and learning exchange programs to more than 3,000 people. These programs help immigrants advance their careers, reunite their families, or even save the life of a loved one. Over time, the people who have come through the IIIC’s doors have been able to build better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. IIIC “alums” are now teachers, business developers, and nonprofit leaders – some even serve on IIIC’s current Board of Directors! They are all living proof that lending a hand to today’s immigrants is a wise investment in the future.