We envision a community that welcomes New American neighbors, values their cultures, understands and addresses their needs, celebrates their achievements and elevates their voices.
FIRN empowers New Americans by providing programs and direct services to help them achieve their goals and/or access community resources and opportunities.
We believe that support for individuals and families is most impactful when services are integrated and holistic
We believe that all of society benefits when New Americans are empowered to realize their dreams, contribute to the economic well-being of their communities and participate fully in the life of the community
We believe there is strength in unity and immigrant communities are empowered when they come together in common purpose, which is centered on unifying New Americans, not dividing them
We believe that by sharing the stories, histories, and contributions of New Americans we promote public understanding of the integral role they play in the social and economic vibrancy of our communities
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.