Split the Plate is one of UUCW’s programs of outreach and generosity. Each month we give half of all undesignated offering monies to a nonprofit organization as a way to help us live our Unitarian Universalist values and serve our community.

The International Institute of Wisconsin began as a branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in the early 1900s. It was established separately in 1936 with the purpose of assisting immigrants and refugees in their transition into the community by offering programming and support services. The Institute promotes international cooperation, understanding, and a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural perspective by providing a range of services that includes refugee resettlement, immigration, as well as educational and social services.

Integration into society is the overall goal of the IIW resettlement program which currently provides a range of services to two main groups of refugees, people from Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Iraq. Both groups are fleeing ethnic conflict and religious or political persecution in their country of origin. The services provided by IIW include safe and secure living arrangements, basic necessities, and links to resources to address their physical, medical, economic and social needs, cultural orientation, case management and adjustment of legal status.

IIW also offers services to immigrants in the U.S. on their path to permanent residency and citizenship, including interpretation and translation. Its experienced and multi-lingual staff assists individuals and families in providing low-cost legal immigration and citizenship services, such as adjustment of status for refugees and non-refugees, travel documents, petitions for family members and naturalization.

IIW also runs the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an affiliate of the U.S. State Department’s National Council for International Visitors. This program hosts groups of emerging international leaders from a variety of professional fields. Its overall mission to promote citizen diplomacy is carried out by IIW through the coordination and facilitation of professional, cultural and interpersonal exchanges between the visitors and their counterparts and experts in their fields throughout the state of Wisconsin.

IIW’s educational programs include a wide range of activities that focus on promoting cultural, ethnic and international exchange and understanding. Some programs focus on a particular country, such as the Japan America Society and Japan Outreach Initiative, the publication of the magazine Viltis (Lithuania), or are more general, such as the Sister Cities program (Milwaukee’s sister cities are Galway (Ireland), Carora (Venezuela) and Buffalo City (South Africa), the Consular Corps (with events such as the World Trade Day), and the Zeidler Lecture Series that aims to honor Frank P. Zeidler’s commitment to educating the general public about the great challenges facing humanity.

For more information about Split the Plate, contact the Committee Chair, Kathy Herrewig.