We started as a group of dedicated volunteers, each on a distinctly unique journey.
Kathryn Polk first connected with local refugees through Interfaith Refugee Ministry Wilmington (IRMW), during its early inception in 2011, as a volunteer ESL tutor and classroom teacher. After working with refugees for 5 years as a weekly volunteer teacher, Kathryn became employed with IRMW in 2015 as the Employment and Resource Developer. She employed over 87 refugees in less than a year, and managed the self-sufficiency Match Grant program with refugee clients. During her employment at IRMW, Kathryn also served as the volunteer and donations coordinator which included donor database management. Kathryn served time on the Advisory Council for IRMW in 2017, until the organization began downsizing the office, and showed a bleak future without an area director.
To compensate for lacking resettlement services available in Wilmington, Kathryn
Polk along with a team of dedicated volunteers from the former Advisory Council (AC) at IRMW hope to start a new resettlement support organization to assist refugees in town. Kathryn has helped provide employment and case management services to resettle refugees from Burma, Iraq, Colombia, Ethiopia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, & Burundi. She is experienced with nonprofit and community event planning, as well sponsorship recruitment and fundraising for IRMW.
Jocelyn’s huge heart and strong leadership contribute profoundly to the refugee community in Wilmington. She created a small business, Global Artisans, to help give her co-sponsored refugee an opportunity for employment and community interaction. They attend local markets throughout the region selling handmade goods, and form relationships with local businesses to sell its products and promote refugee empowerment. Global Artisans also sells items made by relatives of local refugees still struggling to survive in Nyragusu Refugee camp in Tanzania, and sends refugees in the camp revenue for their goods. These global relationships are representative of how far Jocelyn can reach to achieve humanitarian and social justice.
Jocelyn has also served on the AC at Interfaith Refugee Ministry and coordinated numerous fundraisers for the nonprofit organization. She brought an international speaker to UNCW and other local organizations to promote refugee awareness– and raised thousands of dollars for IRMW in the process. Jocelyn’s accustomed to working with diverse populations. Because she grew up in Burundi and other parts of Africa while her father worked as an American Diplomat, Jocelyn has a profound understanding of global and multicultural issues. Jocelyn is an outstanding leader and advocate for local refugees. Through her local refugee work, she continues to help set local refugees up for success—and enriches our community through her refugee integration.
As a full-time faculty member at UNCW, Amanda is a Spanish professor and the coordinator of Applied Learning Experiences. In this role, she manages internships, service-learning & volunteer opportunities for world language students at UNCW. Amanda has been active with refugees since she was a child, since her mother was the executive director of a non-profit literacy council that served many refugees and immigrants who were learning English. Her family helped dozens of resettled refugees in Central Virginia.
When IRM opened in Wilmington, she became active with refugees from Burma and Colombia, helping them find employment, navigate the US school system, and with their daily needs. Amanda also has experience interpreting for IRMW clients, as well as serving on the IRMW AC with Kathryn, Jocelyn & Julie. Amanda currently serves as the president of the Coastal Carolina United Nations (UN) Association, a non-profit that supports the mission of the United Nations. In that role, she has organized speakers, panels, film screenings, and collection drives for local refugees.
Julie Bordo has played an irreplaceable role for the refugee resettlement community in Wilmington as well. The title ‘Spanish Interpreter’ doesn’t begin to do justice to the hundreds and thousands of hours of service Julie has dedicated as a volunteer interpreter for Hispanic refugees in our community. As a retired New Hanover County Spanish teacher of 30 years, Julie demonstrated outstanding leadership skills in her professional career by leading teacher education programs for NC public school systems throughout the state. Julie has also supported refugees with essential case management and employment services since 2014 as a devoted volunteer with IRMW, and former AC member as well.
Julie has a heart of gold, and her devotion to assisting refugees through countless emergencies fills an important role—and big void—in our society. Julie also has an extraordinary upbringing and personal experience as an unaccompanied refugee girl immigrating to the United States as part of the federal government’s Peter Pan project in the 1960s.
In addition to serving and advocating for refugees resettling in Wilmington, NC as a team, we also hope to raise community awareness to the global refugee crisis. Julie, Jocelyn, Kathryn & Amanda have been featured in local newspapers and TV broadcasting news for their local refugee work.
We’re also experienced with giving refugee awareness presentations for church groups, community organizations, local schools and UNCW students. Kathryn also has experience with cultural orientation training for refugees, as well as training volunteers and co-sponsor groups. Our highly qualified team works together as a power-house fighting for humanitarian rights, diversity, and social justice on behalf of local refugees. Thanks for joining us on our mission!
“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn