WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A new resource center opened last week for people in need of help. The Immigrant Assistance Center of West Michigan is officially ready for business.
The plan is for the center to be a one-stop-shop when it comes to immigration services. The founder says she’s been working on this for a long time and she’s excited to see it come to life.
“I’m just excited to do this. It’s been a long time coming,” said executive director Raquel Balderas-Polanco. “I just want to be a voice for my community. I want to be an advocate for my community.”
Balderas-Polanco says she knows what it’s like to build something from the ground up.
“Being a first-generation college student, I experienced what it was like firsthand to navigate all of these new avenues to get to where I am. I recognize the sacrifices that were made by my ancestors and so I want to be able to give that opportunity to others,” said Balderas-Polanco.
The center is located at 4489 Byron Center Ave SW in Wyoming. It offers equitable access to affordable legal services including work with DREAMERS, petitioning for a loved one, or even fleeing an abusive relationship.
Balderas-Polanco has been a paralegal for eight years and says she’s seen situations where people have been taken advantage of.
“Developing that trusting relationship with clients is especially important and allowing them to feel like they can relax and breathe,” said Balderas-Polanco.
Her hope is to build connections with other groups in the community to make sure if someone needs help they have somewhere to go.
“If we can partner with each other for the greater cause of just trying to help as many people in our community as possible, that in itself is a triumph for me,” said Balderas-Polanco.
Balderas-Polanco says she’s also looking for volunteers to help run the center. More information is available online.