I attended a board meeting with Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries (FIRM). Their mission is “Sharing Christ’s love to build communities of hope with New Americans.” They have been meeting the needs of refugee communities, since 1994 in Fresno. Service is mostly to the Hmong, Laotian, Slavic, African and Syrian people groups, which represent over 60,000 people in the Fresno County. Children all the way up to the elderly receive services from after-school programs, advocacy work, mental health programs, community gardens, special events and more in order pursue new ways to meet the needs of the diverse groups they serve.

Mr. Zack Darrah, Executive Director of the FIRM welcomed me on attending a board meeting from the first contact we had. Mr. Darrah even included me in the reminder meeting e-mail to the Board Members who were also aware of my attendance, which made me feel important and excited to attend. Mr. Darrah did indicate that during a closed session part of the meeting I may be excused and then be able to rejoin them after completion of discussion. However, I was able to stay throughout the meeting as all topics were open for me to remain in the meeting. From the moment I arrived on site, I was greeted with such wonderful hospitality from the staff and Board Members. During the meeting, I was able to introduce myself and let everyone know I was a Scholar from the Fresno State Humanics Program.

Prior to the start of the meeting I was given a copy of the agenda, prior meeting minutes and Executive Director Board Report, which helped me follow the meeting and discussions. I also received a resume of the first youth being nominated to join the Board as a full pledged Board Member. That was history in the making of Board Members voting in favor of the youth joining the Board. I believe it was a great example of the organization’s values and commitment to the people they serve by giving a youth a voice and be able to represent the youth community. During the meeting, I observed so much positive communication and discussion with the goals of putting the needs of the people they serve first especially in mental health services. At the end, I interviewed Board Member Rev. Simon Biasell, Pastor, Woven Community Church (PCUSA).