In the News / October 2019

Volunteer Profile: JoAnn Lachapelle

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Volunteer JoAnn Lachapelle shares why she volunteers with USCRI.

I’ve been volunteering at USCRI Raleigh for 2 years now. I first started because of the “Muslim Ban.” I was so upset. I just couldn’t believe it. My husband is an immigrant. He came to the U.S. in 1979 and is a physician today. It was a very different country back when he came. So my reasons for volunteering are both political and personal.

I teach sewing classes to refugees and immigrants at USCRI and I also transport people to appointments. I am 61 years old and I’ve been sewing since age 12. I love sewing, so this volunteer job is easy for me. Everyone has a different level of ability. The ladies in the class speak 4 or 5 different languages, so the teaching is mostly demonstration. I set up each student on a donated sewing machine, demonstrate something, and then they practice. Sewing is not intuitive—it takes practice. The goal is for the sewing classes to lead to job opportunities with a local business that makes military uniforms.

When I look at immigrants, I admire their grit and determination and I want them to know that not everybody here is against them. If you are considering volunteering, please do it. There is no down side. A little bit of time from your life can make a huge difference for someone else. We all need to embrace new people and cultures.

Volunteers play an integral role in USCRI’s work. Learn about volunteering.

UPDATE: A local factory in NC has opened their facility for clients to practice sewing on industrial machines. Sewing classes have been held at the factory for one month and two clients have already been hired and are now working! Thank you, JoAnn, for teaching refugees and immigrants essential skills leading to employment.

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