Mid-Iowa Community Action takes over operations of EMBARC

EMBARC provides services for Southeast Asian refugees


The Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy Resource Center (EMBARC) was founded in Iowa in 2011 by and for ethnic people from Burma who have come to the United States as refugees fleeing political turmoil and violence. EMBARC’s local branch serves the over 1,000 refugees from Burma who now call Marshalltown home. Effective Oct. 1, EMBARC Marshalltown will now be completely managed by Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA).

“EMBARC had subcontracted with MICA to manage its programs a few months ago, and unfortunately, EMBARC just didn’t have the funds or capacity to continue its own office,” said EMBARC Executive Henny Ohr, who is based in Des Moines.

Ohr noted that MICA will be in charge of providing services locally, and in hiring new employees. Its current staff consists of RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members whose terms of service have either expired or will expire later this month. Arlene McAtee, who serves as executive director of MICA, is currently overseeing the local EMBARC branch.

“We will have one full-time employee associated with the work in the VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) grant, and two RefugeeRISE Americorps members, which we are hiring for. We will have MICA staff who will supervise the staff person and Americorps members,” McAtee said.

How will this change in management affect services?

EMBARC Marshalltown has moved out of its office, which had been located in the YMCA’s Cultural Center, and into the MICA Family Development Center, located at 6 S. 2nd Street.

“The employee who works with the VOCA grant will help refugees to help identify their needs and connect to crisis services, while the Americorps members will help with ESL (English as a Second Language), and really specialize in education and training,” McAtee said.

She noted how EMBARC’s operations are possible only through assistance from the VOCA grant, the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, and First United Methodist Church in Marshalltown.

“It’s a community partnership,” she said.

Walk-in clinics for refugees will be held every Monday morning.

MICA is a private, non-profit organization that provides early childhood, health, family development and housing services, as well as community enrichment programs. RefugeRISE AmeriCorps was launched in 2015 through the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and is administered by EMBARC. A total of 37 RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps members serve 10 organizations in Iowa. To apply to be a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps member (to work at the EMBARC Marshalltown office), visit: www.refugeeriseiowa.org and contact Katie Zellmer at: 515-286-2267 or katie@embarciowa.org.

EMBARC staff may be reached at MICA’s Family Development Center, which is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at: 641-753-5523. McAtee is based at MICA’s S. 18th Ave office, and may be reached at: 641-752-7162, ext. 104 and arlene@micaonline.org.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com