Harbor Church opens worker centerGathering for residents from abroad
A summer drop-in center for workers from abroad has opened in the Recreation Center in the basement of Harbor Church. The International Worker Center (IWC) is open Sunday through Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. Free WiFi is available, along with two laptops for use by workers who do not have computers or smartphones to access the internet. In addition there is free coffee and cookies, a 50-inch television for watching international soccer, a pool table, ping pong table, and other games.
The coordinator of the IWC is Raul Mickle, a Peruvian native, who has worked for more than a decade on the island. For much of that time, he was in charge of arranging housing for many international workers. Mickle began discussing the idea of a program for newly arrived workers with Harbor Church leadership last fall. He pointed out the need for a place to gather and use WiFi (especially when the library is closed or busy), as well as the need for assistance with obtaining phones, bicycles, information on immigration, and general advice on settling into life in America. Internationals with questions about the program can reach Mickle at (786) 452-4476.
The IWC is providing free cell phones with the purchase of a $30 prepaid card (1,000 minutes) and is working on obtaining low-cost used bicycles. Two bicycles have already been donated to the center. Trips to the mainland are being planned for shopping and for visits to the international student offices at University of Rhode Island and Community College of Rhode Island, because many workers would like to remain in the United States. A weekly dinner for internationals and interested locals is planned — initially prepared by church members but then prepared by workers to offer a taste of their national cuisine.
The funding for this project is provided roughly equally by Harbor Church and by a grant from the Roosa Fund. Anyone wishing to donate to the IWC can do so through Harbor Church.