The Eastside Refugee and Immigrant Coalition (ERIC) formed in January 2002 after over 20 local health and social service providers gathered to address gaps in service delivery for our immigrant and refugee communities. ERIC is a grassroots coalition and its members include people working in social services, health services, legal advocacy, counseling and referral programs, ESL programs, and area schools. There are also representatives from the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond, faith communities, and volunteer organizations.

ERIC has served as a resource for providers and other community members who work with immigrant and refugee populations in East King County. ERIC fosters networking at meetings and organizes free educational forums where people gather to gain knowledge about culturally competent practices, as well as share challenges and successes in responding to community needs.

Beyond collaboration and education, ERIC has launched projects to address the needs of immigrants and refugees. One such project was Helpful Connections, a multilingual resource guide for immigrants and refugees living in East King County.

In 2005, ERIC sponsored a series of focus groups, meetings, and individual interviews to seek input from immigrant and refugee clients, providers, immigrants and refugees not using services, educators, funders, and legal/social justice experts. A final report of that project, called Community Perspectives, listed a variety of short- and long-term ideas for improving access and cultural competence.

From that process, the Eastside Cultural Navigator Program was piloted in 2006. Bilingual/bicultural staff provide drop-in assistance at the Together Center in Redmond, and at the Bellevue Mini City Hall in the Crossroads area. The program is managed by the Chinese Information and Service Center.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .