June 4, 2021

Sister Susan Wells, while working in Washington’s Skagit Valley north of Seattle, witnessed the needs of the immigrant community every day. She got involved with Immigrant Resources and Immediate Support (IRIS), serving on its Community Advisory Board and volunteering. She saw first-hand the positive difference the organization made for people who need help.

Last spring, with Sister Susan’s recommendation, the Sisters of the Holy Names provided a grant to IRIS to fund the Immigrant Bridge Support program. The goal of the program is to provide immediate assistance to immigrants facing a temporary crisis. Many of the IRIS clients are women and children fleeing violence in their countries of origin. Some are recent arrivals; others have been in the U.S. for a longer period of time but are experiencing a temporary economic crisis, such as a job loss or medical issues.

COVID-19 has made struggles for immigrants even more significant, causing lost income, loss of childcare and health emergencies. SNJM funding provided assistance with rent, food and household needs for more than 60 people.

One asylum-seeking mother and her three children, including a baby with Down syndrome and a heart condition, could not find housing. Local shelters were at capacity due to COVID restrictions. IRIS, thanks to SNJM support, provided interim housing and a bridge to a better future. The family moved into their own apartment in January 2021.

The SNJM Immigrant and Refugee grant program is made possible by benefactors who want to “welcome the stranger” by caring for newcomers to our country. Sister Susan said, “I am excited by our SNJM collaboration with IRIS and to see firsthand how that collaboration is providing urgently needed resources for our immigrant sisters and brothers.”