Tacoma Community House partners with portrait artist to shed light on refugee migration stories

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Local artist Jonathan Hanks paints portraits of refugee community members. Shown is one of his portraits. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hanks

Tacoma Community House has announced a partnership with local artist Jonathan Hanks, who will conduct interviews and paint portraits of refugee community members who wish to share their stories. Participants will receive a free, professionally printed copy of their portrait.

The goal of the project is to highlight refugee migration stories through art. Refugees enter the United States because of fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Once USCIS determines that the individual is facing persecution in their country due to discrimination, the individual may enter the United States with refugee status. If permitted to enter the country, they face trials such as learning the English language and securing employment by a deadline of six months. The transition is often traumatic. Through this project, Tacoma Community House and Hanks hope to assist those who have experienced the complexity of migration to retell their stories of adversity and perseverance, and assist others in becoming knowledgeable of the struggles refugees face on a day-to-day basis.

If you know any refugees who may be interested in this innovative project, contact Latasha Ware, TCH outreach coordinator, at Lware@tacomacommunityhouse.org or at (253) 383-3951.

As one of the longest, continuously operating social service agencies in Washington, TCH has improved the lives of generations of immigrants, refugees, and other (predominantly low-income) community members through the four cornerstones of education, employment, immigration and advocacy.

Founded by Methodist women in 1910 in the small room of a private home in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, TCH originally served a couple dozen neighborhood children. Today, TCH is a nationally respected, community-based multiservice center providing 3,700 program services to 2,700 adults and youth from the U.S. and more than 90 other countries.

TCH’s service area of Pierce, South King, Kitsap, Thurston, and Mason counties represents a growing population of 1.7 million individuals, 11 percent of whom are immigrants. TCH is the only organization that provides a full range of services to immigrants and refugees between Portland and Seattle.

Learn more at www.TacomaCommunityHouse.org.

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