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Michigan's AmeriCorps Member of the Month

MI AmeriCorps Member of the Month - April 2015: Daniel Kim, Red Cross

International disasters, migration, war, and conflict leave millions of people all over the world in need. The Red Cross Mission is to provide relief to victims of armed conflict and disaster, and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Daniel Kim helps further the global reach of the Red Cross by educating the community about these efforts and by facilitating communication among new arrivals to the US, the organizations that serve them, and families facing communication barriers caused by language, armed conflicts and emergencies.

Daniel is a full-time AmeriCorps member with the Together We Prepare (TWP) AmeriCorps program. The TWP AmeriCorps program, hosted by the American Red Cross, utilizes 33 AmeriCorps members statewide to provide vital emergency assistance to victims and communities affected by disaster, educate individuals to increase preparedness before disasters strike, and recruit and support volunteers.

Daniel is placed at the American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids where he serves with the International Services and Service to Armed Forces programs. His service has helped strengthen the organization’s connection to the international community within Grand Rapids. Daniel created a language bank to help build relationships and create partnerships with those who speak English as a second language. The ability to serve those with limited English ability, especially newly arrived residents, enables the American Red Cross not only to assist these families and help meet their basic needs, but also to fulfill the Red Cross mission and principles by preparing migrants and refugees to respond properly in times of crisis, disaster or other emergencies.

Daniel also founded the Global Language Bank Internship Program with the idea of providing a high quality internship opportunity to international college students and translators/interpreters to English as Second Language (ESL) clients in emergency and disaster situations. The Global Language Bank Internship program has developed to meet changing community needs. Services to these individuals are provided free of charge. The American Red Cross has created the cultural competency book to provide assistance both within the Chapter (to other Red Cross departments such as Services to the Armed Forces, Disaster and Volunteer Services) and to other nonprofit humanitarian service providers. Currently, there are 13 linguistic interns/volunteers who collectively speak more than 15 different languages and dialects and are available seven days a week. The Language Bank provides in-person and over-the-phone interpretation as well as written translations.

Additionally, Daniel works with the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, which offers hope to families that are victims of conflict and separation. When separation happens, the Red Cross provides assistance by searching for family members, restoring contact, facilitating reunions, and working to determine the fate of loved ones who remain missing.

For more information about the Together We Prepare AmeriCorps program, please contact program director Laura Osborne at Laura.Osborne@redcross.org. For more information about AmeriCorps, visit www.americorps.gov.