New Intercultural Center opens in downtown Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

New Intercultural Center opens in downtown Steamboat

Melinda Dudley

Local citizens gathered at the new location of the Integrated Community Intercultural Center in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday night.

— For an organization that helps direct immigrants to local services, visibility and accessibility are key. With those factors in mind, Integrated Community recently moved into its new Intercultural Center on Oak Street, and walk-ins already are increasing.

Last week, Integrated Community assisted a number of Steamboat newcomers, ranging from an Australian worker needing a reference to a visa consultant to a non-English speaking family requesting assistance navigating the legal system for a name change, Executive Director Summer Laws said.

Integrated Community is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between immigrant and non-immigrant communities. In addition to providing free services and case-by-case assistance to immigrant families, Integrated Community also offers free English lessons to anyone who needs them. Current students’ native languages range from Spanish to Polish to Mandarin Chinese.

Integrated Community is expanding its reach with the help of new staff, as well as adding additional programs to its repertoire.

As Integrated Community’s new program manager for the Intercultural English as a Second Language programs, Eveline Bacon will split her time between Craig and Steamboat, she said Wednesday at the Intercultural Center’s open house.

In addition to managing existing corps of volunteer language tutors in both counties, Bacon said she is looking forward to developing Integrated Community’s first classroom ESL program in Craig.

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“It’s something new we get to bring to the community,” Bacon said.

Bacon’s hiring and Integrated Community’s new Intercultural Center were made possible by a grant from The Colorado Trust’s Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative. Integrated Community now has four full-time staff members split between Routt and Moffat counties, Laws said.

Integrated Community and Community United, a volunteer committee focusing on intercultural understanding, took over the space formerly occupied by the LIFT-UP Thrift Store, at 718 Oak St.

The new Intercultural Center provides Integrated Community with a home that is not only much more visible in the community than its previous space in Colorado Mountain College’s Bogue Hall, but it also gives them adequate space for their programs, Laws said.

Existing programs such as Intercambio, a weekly Spanish-English conversation group, will now have a permanent home in Steamboat, instead of constantly moving from place to place and losing participants in the process, Laws said. And with an in-house kitchen, Integrated Community can dramatically expand its international cooking classes, she said.

With a true office, the nonprofit’s staff and volunteers can now give their full focus to serving the community, instead of constantly losing travel time driving from place to place, Laws said.

-To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com