Community

Intercultural Center plans to open computer lab for job seekers needing assistance navigating language barriers

Creation of learning center in partnership with Iowa Premium in Tama with $25k donation

#x201c;This donation means a lot, not only to just our center, but to the community considering (Iowa Premium) is a big
“This donation means a lot, not only to just our center, but to the community considering (Iowa Premium) is a big employer,” says Rama Muzo, president and CEO of the Intercultural Center of Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Intercultural Center of Iowa in Cedar Rapids is opening a learning center and computer lab thanks to a donation from Iowa Premium, a meatpacking plant in Tama.

The learning center, at 4338 16th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids, is hoped to open in August with social-distancing guidelines in place.

“This donation means a lot, not only to just our center, but to the community considering (Iowa Premium) is a big employer,” said Rama Muzo, founder of the Intercultural Center. “For them to recognize we need their support outside of the working environment speaks volumes about Iowa (Premium) and what they do.”

The Intercultural Center of Iowa is a not-for-profit in Cedar Rapids that provides education, resources and advocacy for immigrants and refugees. Programs include employment and youth services and a homeownership program.

The learning center will be staffed for at least 20 hours a week. Muzo expects it to be open a few weekday mornings, Saturdays and other times of the week depending on community need.

It will provide assistance with job applications, accessing unemployment benefits and navigating educational resources.

“We’re providing computers and support on how to access information in a language and cultural context that is understandable,” Muzo said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Two full-time employees and one part-time employee will be added to the Intercultural Center to staff the learning center.

The Intercultural Center still is in need of some funding for the learning center and is applying for grants and asking for private donations.

Sylvan Lukama, a translator with the Intercultural Center, said the learning center also will be available for students needing homework assistance, parents who need help navigating the school system and navigating the health care system.

The donation is a part of National Beef’s response to the coronavirus, said Marcy Johnson, director of corporate communications with National Beef, parent company of the Iowa Premium plant in Tama.

The general manager at each National Beef plant had the opportunity to choose a not-for-profit to which to donate, she noted.

Iowa Premium general manager Jon Surman chose the Intercultural Center.

“It’s important for us to support our communities because our communities support us,” Johnson said.

For years, Iowa Premium has worked with the Intercultural Center to recruit employees. About 40 percent of the employees at Iowa Premium are Congolese, Johnson said.

The learning center at the Intercultural Center also will serve as a place for prospective Iowa Premium employees to apply for a job, interview and get a physical, a requirement for employment.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

In April, the state announced 177 out of more than 500 National Beef workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The plant closed for what it called a regularly scheduled cleaning for two weeks. The closure was then extended an additional 10 days.

Johnson said the Tama community supported the plant and its community through the coronavirus.

“We’re all looking forward to talking about something other than COVID-19,” Johnson said.

To donate to the Intercultural Center of Iowa or to ask a question, call (319) 214-0423 or email info@interculturaliowa.org.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.