Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FBI Presents Director's Community Leadership Award to the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

Sokhom Tauch is the Executive Director

Arthur Balizan, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon, has presented the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award to the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) for the organization’s outstanding efforts in the areas of community cooperation, education and crime prevention efforts, and youth services.

Founded in 1976, IRCO is a community-based organization that assists refugees and immigrants through the various stages of integration into U.S. society. To date, IRCO has empowered more than 100,000 immigrants and refugees to be self-sufficient within our multi-ethnic society.

IRCO is a regional leader in education and crime prevention. It holds workshops on public safety, the legal system, and emergency services for newly-arrived refugees. IRCO has also been instrumental in helping immigrants and refugees become engaged in the civic process through their innovative Civic Engagement Program. This is a four-month program in which community leaders agree to put aside their fears of government in order to be more informed and engaged citizens. It is through educational workshops such as these that IRCO is helping to develop community cooperation and change negative perceptions of government and law enforcement in the immigrant and refugee communities.

“It is with great honor that we recognize IRCO for its work helping to bridge the gap between law enforcement and some of the most vulnerable populations in our community,” said Mr. Balizan. “IRCO teaches people new to our country that they have a right to live without the fear of persecution and retribution by law enforcement that can be all too common in other parts of the world.”

Additionally, IRCO has been a leader in developing programs for local youth, including mentoring programs, employment opportunities, and gang prevention services. IRCO’s goal is to increase graduation rates while lowering criminal activity, truancy, and drug and alcohol abuse. One example of this work is a recent effort to place 228 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 in jobs with the City of Portland, private businesses, and nonprofits. All these youth were at risk for homelessness; were gang-involved or gang-affected; were runaways or in foster homes; were involved in criminal activity; had dropped out of school; were pregnant or were young parents; or were learning or physically disabled. Another example: in 2006, IRCO created Youth Gang Prevention Services for helping Asian/Pacific Islander youth who were at risk for gang activity and violence. Nearly 4,000 youth have since benefited from their services.

Sokhom Tauch is the executive director of IRCO. In his 34 years of work with IRCO, he has helped to grow the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization into serving more than 45 ethnicities with more 60 different languages. Additionally, IRCO has expanded its service in many areas including youth services, senior services, community development, folk arts, domestic violence services, citizenship, environmental justice, and volunteer programming. Mr. Tauch earned his MBA from Marylhurst College in 1993 and has provided numerous fiscal management workshops to refugee self-help organizations in the United States. In addition to his work at IRCO, Sokhom is very active within the Oregon Cambodian community.

You can find out more information about IRCO at www.irco.org.

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