Share Your Time and Skills!

It takes a village to raise a child, but first, you need to build the village. If you have skills to lend or time to spare, there are families who need you. It takes very little time to make a big difference in someone’s life, and we’d love to work with you! Here are a few examples of ways you can help:

  • Help refugee children improve their English and complete homework
  • Help adult refugees learn English and computer skills, and prepare for the HiSET (GED)
  • Assist with donation drives
  • Help refugees apply for “green cards” so they can work
  • Help write grants, plan events and fundraise
  • Perform basic clerical tasks, such as filing, data entry and correspondence
  • Help publicize EMBARC

Resources for current volunteers and mentors:

How To Volunteer

Please complete and return our full volunteer application to begin the process. If you have any questions about volunteering with EMBARC, please contact our volunteer coordinator at volunteer@embarciowa.org.

Volunteer Opportunities — Des Moines Area

Walk-In Clinic: Although many refugees speak several languages, English may not be one of them. Those just learning English may need help understanding documents and signing up for services, and EMBARC offers set open hours for them to drop in for assistance. Volunteers are needed to help refugee clients with filling out paperwork, reading mail, making phone calls and handling other day-to-day tasks. The Walk-In Clinic is held at Vineyard Church on Mondays from 1–4 pm and Fridays from 10 am–1 pm.

Community-Based English as a Second Language (CBESL): These classes are held for adult members of the refugee community who want to learn or improve their English skills. Volunteers are asked to come to at least one class a week to assist the teacher and the students, creating a more one-to-one learning environment.

Mentors: The individual mentoring program pairs a refugee client with an individual from America to assist the mentee with any goals he or she may have. This program is perfect for volunteers who have a flexible schedule and are willing to commit to a yearlong, meaningful program working in a one-on-one environment.

Family Mentoring Program (FISH): The family mentoring program (called “FISH”) pairs American families with refugee families to provide guidance on adjusting to life in America. This partnership may include English practice in the home, as well as work toward other long-term goals involving the whole family system. The FISH program is perfect for volunteers who have a flexible schedule and are willing to commit to a yearlong, meaningful program.

Volunteer Opportunities — Waterloo Area

Client Advocate: Volunteers work directly with a refugee family to assist them with medical appointments. This includes transporting clients to appointments, advocating for clients by ensuring interpretation is available, scheduling follow-up appointments as needed, and building professional and supportive relationships with clients.

On-Call Transportation: Many members of the refugee community cannot drive or do not have a car. As an on-call transportation volunteer, you receive a call from EMBARC when transportation is needed. You can let us know if you’re available or not during that time.

Mentors: Mentors work with adult members of the refugee community on goals such as passing the naturalization citizenship exam, learning and improving English skills, preparing to enter the workforce, and preparing for higher education — all with direct support from EMBARC. Mentors meet one-on-one with a refugee community member once a week.

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