On July 15, 2015, AID NW dedicated and opened its post-detention Welcome Center, located close to the release gate of the Northwest Detention Center. The Welcome Center is open Monday thru Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. to serve the needs of released immigrants and their families.
Each weekday, seven to ten immigrants are released from the detention center. The Welcome Center volunteers provide information for accessing services that the immigrants need to build their lives – or to rebuild their lives – in the U.S. AID NW hopes that its Welcome Center allows released immigrants to feel connected to and a part of the community. In addition to information, volunteers provide public transit funds, arrange for safe housing, emergency food and clothing, and, when applicable, make referrals for refugee resettlement services. Most importantly, the immigrants will immediately receive a heartfelt Northwest community welcome.
The immigrants seen here are former detainees who are currently receiving or have recently received safe release services from AID NW.
In the ten years that the Advocates have been meeting, we have been challenged to put ourselves in the shoes of those who have left their home countries either for a better life or to save their lives. Immigrants who know no one and then must figure out where to sleep, how to make money to eat, and how to regain a sense of living a normal life after months or years of detention.
Having a community that welcomes rather than shuns immigrants makes all the difference; Having a friendly face to share a meal with, to show them where to take the bus, or where to buy milk; Being welcomed by a community of people to reaffirm that they deserve to be treated with dignity as we all do.
Links to news coverage of the opening of the post-detention Welcome Center: