FIRN believes our community is stronger and richer because of its diversity, and values the differences of cultures and peoples.
FIRN believes that each individual has unique strengths, and values the contribution each makes to our community.
FIRN believes in treating the people it serves with respect and sensitivity, and values a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere.
FIRN believes in the power of collaboration, and values the opportunity to work in partnership with other organizations to “bridge cultures and build community.
FIRN empowers foreign-born individuals by providing programs and direct services that help them access community resources and opportunities.
A community that welcomes foreign-born neighbors, values their cultures and celebrates their achievements.
FIRN is a nonprofit organization in Howard County, Maryland that empowers immigrants, refugees, asylees and other foreign-born individuals by helping them to access community resources and opportunities. FIRN provides immigration counseling, interpreting & translation services, information and referrals and a variety of workshops.
FIRN grew out of an informal support service for foreign-born students at Howard Community College (HCC) and an idea by Pat Hatch for a place where immigrants could ask questions “without feeling uneasy”. Pat shared her idea with the Columbia Foundation and with HCC’s teachers of English as a Second Language, whose students were continually posing questions that had little to do with English, but much to do with survival in a new culture.
Pat and HCC joined forces. With initial seed money from the Columbia Foundation, FIRN opened its doors in October 1981, staffed only by Pat. In its first year, the project served 90 persons from 10 countries. In 1984, FIRN was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Slowly its services expanded to include immigration counseling, interpreting and other critical services. Today, FIRN serves immigrants from over 90 countries and is well known as the key resource in Central Maryland for the foreign born. It also provides valuable assistance and guidance to health and human service agencies that serve immigrant clients.