Commanding thousands of soldiers protecting a disputed international border. Training bomb-sniffing dogs. Making moccasins out of tiger skin, tigers that you have caught yourself with a rope trap. Those are some of the job skills that refugees bring with them to the United States, skills that are’t necessarily transferable to the American labor market. That’s where IRIS’s Employment Team comes in. For refugees who resettle in America, finding work is the express lane to self-sufficiency,Read More
By Catherine Kannam, IRIS Summer Intern It’s a typical action-packed Monday at IRIS. Adults chat as they exit English class upstairs, children splash on the sidewalk pool, conversations in Arabic, Farsi and Kinyarwanda intermingle as people apply for jobs. This all represents the backdrop for something that’s become an almost everyday task at IRIS the final preparations for the arrival of a new refugee family. Ashley, the IRIS outreach coordinator, flips through paperwork so weRead More

Remembering Anne Dombrofski

By Chris George, IRIS Executive Director Anne Dombrofski died last week. She was riding her bicycle in West Hartford last Sunday, August 28, hit a pothole, and despite wearing a helmet, she suffered a devastating brain injury and died last Tuesday, August 30. When I first heard the tragic news my thoughts raced to her children Claire, 11, and Sean, 14 and her husband Mark. Anne was totally devoted to her family. I also thoughtRead More
Our 2016 Summer Learning Program has been a big success! This year 44 children are enrolled for eight weeks of learning opportunities more students than ever before. Many of this year’s students are from Syrian families, newly arrived as part of Connecticut’s dedication to refugee resettlement. Refugee children at IRIS’s Summer Learning Program get an intensive introduction to the American educational system during their class time, from 9 am to noon. First in three classroomsRead More
Need a new shoulder bag that’s easy to wear on a bike? Check out the skillful work of our refugee women’s sewing group, Peace Works. Peace Works is now partnering with repair business Goatville Cyclesmith to sell bike-friendly canvas bags complete with a Peace Works logo. Goatville Cyclesmith owner Joel LaChance is selling the bags at his mobile shop in downtown New Haven. Through this partnership, our Peace Works women are able to pursue entrepreneurshipRead More
We are incredibly proud of our refugee artists! On July 8, 2016, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services celebrated the grand opening of the exhibit Stories From Near and Far: Refugee Artists in New Haven at the New Haven Museum. We had a full house an overflow crowd of more than 150 guests along with visits from lawmakers and community leaders. Taking center stage at the event were the art and the artists, brought into theRead More


(Based on a sermon preached at First United Methodist Church in Wallingford, CT, 4/17/2016 and first published by Killing the Buddha.) I keep trying to tell my refugee friends I’m sorry. Your hometown was burned down again. You don’t know if your brother got out alive. That MRI reminds you of the war. Your only chance to take a GED class is after your 12-hour factory shift. And so many Americans are saying bad thingsRead More