From its grassroots beginnings in 1977, serving newly arrived Southeast Asian refugees in Snohomish County, Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest (RISNW) has grown to become a multi-service organization serving refugees and immigrants. RISNW currently has 12 Immigrant and Refugee Navigators who reflect and represent many of the diverse communities that they serve. Navigators come from the community, understand the culture, and speak the same language/dialects. Through their work in their communities, as formal and informal leaders, navigators are skilled at delivering services in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.

In the past 2 years, Washington State has become one of the top five states in the country to welcome Afghan arrivals. RISNW is the first point of contact for these families – close to 200 Afghans–who are handed off to the organization from a few days to a few hours of leaving a US military camp. RISNW is connecting 40 families to access and implement resources such as housing, food, preventive healthcare services, and enrollment of children in Head Start and Edmonds School District schools. RISNW’s Afghan Navigator, for example, works with these families to ensure they receive all the support to which they are eligible. For the Cambodian refugees, many are seniors who are isolated. A Navigator works with them to schedule and have physical exams, mammograms, etc., and ensures barriers are removed to attending these important preventive and maintenance appointments. With funding from Verdant, the RISNW Refugee and Immigrant Navigators offer vital, community-building services and ensures a brighter future and healthier future for our new neighbors.

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