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A New Home

Greeley’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Invests in Our Community

Article by Caitlyn Olson

Photography by Adalyn Sinclair

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Greeley is home to people from all over the world. From Burmese to Portuguese to Vietnamese, the Immigrant Refugee of Northern Colorado (IRCNOCO) serves a clientele that speaks a total of 24 languages from dozens of countries around the globe.

Lisa Taylor, Executive Director for IRCNOCO, states, “Their [immigrants and refugees] kids go to school here, they buy homes here, and they work here. They are extremely invested in making this place home.”

IRCNOCO helps immigrants and refugees from all over the world to build their homes right here in Greeley. Offering English and Citizenship classes, a community navigation team, advocacy, tutoring, food distribution, health fairs, and more, IRCNOCO is a vital resource for immigrants and refugees in helping their transition into our community. 

“What we know is that there is a great return on investment with immigrants and refugees,” Taylor explains. “They want for their children exactly what we want for our children.” 

Beyond this, Taylor notes, “There is an inherent value of having a diverse populace that brings perspectives and open up new worlds and new ways of thinking that really enrich our community in a number of ways.”

Though IRCNOCO hosts a diverse clientele all seeking a better life in the United States, Minah Minsari, Salma Ali, and Sa Paw are three immigrants and refugees who’ve moved to our community looking to make Greeley their new home.

Sa Paw, Thailand, Southeast Asia 

“When I came to Greeley, they welcomed me, taught me, supported me.” Sa Paw came to Greeley as a refugee in 2014, leaving behind her parents in a Thailand refugee camp. 

The IRC has supported Paw as a single mother raising two children to thrive in our community. IRCNOCO helped Paw get a job, learn English, and provided several other resources to get her back on her feet. “I am so grateful.” 

“When I first moved here, I was really scared, but I’m not scared anymore.” Paw and her children continue to make Greeley their home away from home.

Minah Minsari, Malaysia, Southeast Asia 

Minah Minsarai moved to Greeley from Malaysia, South East Asia, in 2016. Nearly 9,000 miles from her home, Minsari has built her life in Greeley in hopes of creating a life of health, prosperity, and success for her and her five children. 

“Northern Colorado is such a peaceful place to live. There are so many opportunities for us here,” she says. Though, Minsarai and her family are still in the process of making this place home. The language barrier makes it difficult to get out in the community.

Luckily, Minsari and her family have IRCNOCO to help tackle these hurdles. Minsari and her husband attend English classes at IRCNOCO and utilize their community navigator team to help translate mail to their native language. 

“In my country, there was not much available to us. We have more freedom now than ever before. We can drive a car or ride a bike without fear. We’ve even  made friends and feel connected to the community.” She continues, “That is what makes it feel like home for us.”

Salma Ali, Sudan, Northern Africa

Born in Sudan, Northeastern Africa, Salma Ali moved to the United States in hopes of “a better life” for her family and “the best education” for her children. While still living in Sudan, Ali earned her master’s degree and worked as a high school teacher. She knew the value of a good education and desired the same for her three children. 

Though knowing no English before moving to the United States, Ali has made it a priority to learn English and work hard to make a living for her family working at JBS. 

While making a living, Ali and her family have made a life for themselves in the Greeley community with the help of IRCNOCO. “I didn’t have many friends when we came here, but now I have a community.” 

Taking English classes at IRCNOCO connected Ali to many other families in the community who were all seeking the same thing – making Greeley their home away from home. 

“Greeley has changed our lives. We have new friends, we have new jobs, we have a new home. Greeley is our new home.”

  • Sa Paw, Thailand, Southeast Asia 
  • Salma Ali, Sudan, Northern Africa
  • Minah Minsari, Malaysia, Southeast Asia 
  • IRCNOCO Staff Members