Centro Internacional de Raleigh (CIR) was founded in 2006 to organize and engage churches and civic organizations in building relationships with under-resourced international communities that will empower and enrich the entire community. Initially, CIR concentrated our efforts in the Raleigh-Durham area, helping area churches minister to the Immigrant neighborhoods in their communities. In April 2011, our work gained tremendous visibility following a tornado that ravaged Stony Brook Mobile Home Park, a predominantly Latino neighborhood. CIR quickly became the go-to organization in relief efforts, coordinating with the American Red Cross, FEMA, and state and local emergency management teams to deliver more than $2,000,000 in aid to the tornado victims and assist them in long-term recovery efforts.This success opened the door to new partnerships with the Governor's Office of Latino Affairs, the Salvation Army and Red Cross, raising our credibility and impact at the state and national levels. Additional partnerships with National Immigration Forum, Immigrant Hope, Immigrant Alliance, and the Evangelical Immigration Table have provided us with a growing platform to increase awareness of the critical issues facing immigrants in North Carolina today.
Every initiative at CIR focuses on restoring four broken relationships: with one's self, with others, with the material world, and with God. We believe the evangelical church is one of the most powerful and underutilized resources in systemic immigration reform, offering the ideal means of reaching many of the state's policymakers and community leaders. Accordingly, CIR provides evangelicals with opportunities to love their immigrant neighbors and create lasting relationships where both sides are mutually blessed. We also restore people's relationships with their government by providing education on how it works and how they can become involved in making changes. Finally, CIR connects immigrants with the larger community by addressing and removing barriers to integration, including legal status, misconceptions, prejudices, and other societal factors. Thus, our work is targeted at three primary groups: the evangelical community, policymakers (local community, state and federal officials), and immigrant communities themselves.
CIR is led by our executive director, John Faison. John has over 20 years' experience working with faith groups and the Latino community, and is deeply committed to mentoring area Latino nonprofit and church leaders, providing opportunities for them to communicate with state and local government officials to make their voice heard. John is currently assisted by one full-time employee, and two part-time employees; however, the size of our staff varies widely depending on our programming needs. (During the tornado relief efforts, CIR had 8 full time employees.) Over the next year, we anticipate adding two additional positions to our staff: an attorney to act as program director for our legal work and an assistant executive director to concentrate on development opportunities.