• Laurel Contributor

Of All Nations and Religions

by kaye McHan


“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respected stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions: whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…” – George Washington

Here in the words of our Founding Father lies some of the bricks that form the foundation for America. In fact, the majority of our population are descendants of strangers from various nations and religions. Can you imagine leaving your home and moving to a place where you cannot communicate, nor do you understand the customs and everyone is a stranger? The hardships of financially, spiritually and emotionally supporting oneself would be insurmountable. But our ancestors did it and many of our fellow humans are still doing it to have the opportunity for a better life, just like the Puritans at Plymouth Rock.

We are very fortunate to have a local nonprofit that works diligently to assist and welcome all who live or work in our area no matter what Nation or Religion. But recently I have discovered that The International Friendship Center is not widely known and/or the mission is not fully understood.

IFC exists to assist people experiencing hardship and to address concerns and challenges facing the immigrants in our community by fostering understanding among all people, facilitating social and human services, and providing nutrition to the needy through the Highlands Food Pantry. The programming includes interpretation and translation services for medical, education, housing, utilities and community services; access to personal hygiene items and groceries from the food pantry; and legal and immigration resources. And the services are provided to people who have lived here for years or people who are new to the community. Thank you to all of the volunteers and supporters who make these services available because you believe in the value of life and care about the most vulnerable members of our community.

IFC is located at 348 South 5th Street in Highlands and can be reached at (828) 526-0890 or at centrodeamigos@nctv.com.

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