Moving with the winds of change:
Veteran Chinook Fund grantee, Compañeros, has recently experienced a move that catalyzed improvements for their programming, outreach, and more!
Compañeros Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center located in Durango, Colorado realized it faced two major challenges last fall. One was that they were outgrowing their office space and the other was that they needed to expand their capacity to recruit and use interns and volunteers effectively. Staff put the word out for both these needs but initially received little or no response from the community. Before long they reached out specifically to the Durango Education Center because they had an office for rent in the Commons building where many other non-profits are located and it seemed like a great fit. This new office was a big improvement for better serving individuals and families looking for assistance or ways to get involved in the movement for immigration reform and other statewide campaigns for just policies and social change.
The new space immediately proved more visible not only to the immigrant community, but to a number of local ally organizations, independent community activists, and volunteers. With that challenge out of the way and as a result of finding such a great location, Compañeros has seen a steady increase in the number of daily inquiries from people seeking services, referrals, information and opportunities to get involved. Additionally, they have begun collaborating with local educational institutions including the Fort Lewis College departments of Sociology, University of Denver, the Durango Education Center, and three area high schools. Compañeros has engaged three interns to be the feet on the ground for a community survey and ethnographic study of the immigrant population. The outcomes of this project will benefit all parties involved. It will give Compañeros data and feedback to see how we can improve outreach and increase engagement, especially from potential leaders. The interns will get real world experience and educational credit, and most importantly, this work innately breaks down barriers between immigrants and the U.S. citizens with whom they live, work, and go to school. In our efforts to collect testimonies and provide information, we have connected volunteers and other organizations to the community, therefore increasing the availability of services such as language access, mental health care, sexual assault victim’s assistance, and legal advocacy.