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anya valsamakis

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1 reviews

Review for Unite Oregon, Portland, OR, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Hi, I'm Anya Valsamakis, CIO board member for five plus years. Why do I volunteer? My parents were very newly emmigrated from Russia to the US, when I was born. Though you would never know it if you met me (probably), finding my between-cultures identity was painful. I became a social worker and for years worked with refugee and immigrant families, developing programs and helping find jobs. Though social services are very important in the early resettlement years, what immigrants need for the long term is civic education, a voice here, and to have their very great contibutions seen and counted. CIO is a vibrant, flexible organization, driven by values of equity and social justice. We believe that a, " diverse, grassroots, multiracial, multicul;tural movement of immigrants and refugees"can help make Portland a better place to live and serve as a model of unity for the rest of the country. I love being part of CIO, find my community service gives back over and over. One example why I find it meaningful: at our last board meeting about 40 Somali youth came to CIO for their own organizing meeting, to launch their own youth centered non-profit. Seeing their faces and hearing their excited voices, switching between Somali and English, I felt tremendous pride that CIO empowers people to engage in this great country that belongs to all of us.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The RISE workshop- Refugee and Immigrant Solidarity Education. This workshop is an educational experience for allies who want to understand the historical forces that shape immigration policy. I learned how to better advocate on behalf of immigrant issues.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Enlarge the staff size and increase funding so that more work could be accomplished. Let more people know about the mission and the dedicated staff, boars and members at CIO.

Role:  Board Member & I worked for over 15 years helping immigrants resettle, find work access, education. .