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Nicole Parady's Fundraiser:

Nicole Parady: IRIS "Running on MDI for Refugees"

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Nicole Parady

THE STORY:

Hello! This is my second consecutive year that I am trying to run in a 5k race in order to raise money for a non-profit organization called IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services). Last year, I completely confused the date, and I missed this run. This year, I will be sure to complete it! This beautiful organization and fundraiser is out of New Haven, CT. Because I am now living in Maine, I plan to run the 5k race by myself, but during the same time and day as the one in CT. Please allow me to share my experience with IRIS and why I have become so passionate about this life-saving organization: Two years ago, I had a student enter my 1st grade class in mid-September. A few days before, she had just landed in the United States from Iraq, with her family. She did not have any understanding of English, or did her family. An IRIS representative came with her and her family the first few days to make sure she was comfortable at her new school. By the end of the year, this student was fluent in English and had become above grade level in every subject. She worked extremely hard both at school and at home. Her family was extremely supportive of helping her at home! During parent-teacher conferences, her father's eyes filled with tears of pure joy that his daughter was actually receiving an education. I continued to remain in contact with this family throughout the next year. In doing so, I have learned that this father is still taking adult education courses to further his education, as he continues to integrate his family into our world. Last year, I am blessed enough to have another little girl, supported by IRIS, come into my class. She also came from Iraq with no English background. She was working so hard both in and out of school and loved to learn. She had made many friends and has a heart of gold. Her family was nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately for me, but great from them, her and her family moved out of state when they learned they had family in another part of the country. I have been so moved by these families, that I wanted to learn more about the program that went above and beyond for them. I received an email from IRIS stating that they were holding a workshop at Yale University to discuss the "Mental Hardships on Refugee Students." I went to the workshop and it was so eye opening. Not only did I hear personal stories from refugees themselves, but I also learned what IRIS does for these families. IRIS accepts certain refugee families into their program and aids them on their journey over to the U.S. IRIS continues to support these families as they try to integrate into our culture. It is expected that the adults get jobs and enroll in English classes. Until the families learn English, IRIS provides translators. Lastly, IRIS also provides housing, furniture, food, clothes and toys so these families are in need of nothing when they arrive in the U.S. When these families are on their feet, they are expected to pay back all financial debts. IRIS is such an amazing organization--one that I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to learn about and work with. With all the political Please find it in your hearts to donate to this life-changing organization. Your money is going to such a great cause. Together, we will help create better lives for those families that truly deserve it.

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