The foundation of Intercultural Family Services, Inc. (Intercultural) is rooted in the experiences of thousands of immigrants and refugees who came to Philadelphia to create new homes from countries around the world such as Angola, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Hungary, Laos, Poland, Romania, and Vietnam. After traveling thousands of miles, sometimes taking many years, they moved next door to people who didn’t speak the same language, pray to the same God, eat the same foods, or use the same medicines. Intercultural’s guiding principles emerged from these interactions between the newcomers and residents per the following:
- Intercultural respects different beliefs, customs, and values;
- Intercultural promotes the similarities amongst people; and
- Intercultural celebrates culture and faith as the grounds for collective understanding.
With these guiding principles, Intercultural’s leadership set out to build family-oriented services that were culturally competent, linguistically appropriate and, most importantly, flexible enough to be tailored to individual or family needs.
The organization was founded in 1979 and under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches and it was incorporated in 1984 as the Philadelphia Refugee Service Center. Further, in 1992, we changed our name to Intercultural Family Services, Inc. (Intercultural), which reflects our current mission.
What began as a small resettlement agency run by volunteers with limited funds has grown into a multi-purpose human services organization supported by private and public partnerships. Recognizing the power of diversity, Intercultural’s board and staff consists of individuals from African, Asian, Latino, European and other descents. As a result, we have the capacity to translate and interpret in more than 20 primary languages.
Intercultural serves people throughout the greater Philadelphia area in our three locations. Today, Intercultural provides an array of community-based health and social services, and a constant exchange of training, educational, artistic, cultural and civic experiences.
Cultural competence is the cornerstone by which Intercultural measures its success. Intercultural adheres to the belief that all individuals possess invaluable resources that are essential, not only for personal growth, but also for improved family and community relationships. Intercultural builds on the strengths inherent in the cultural heritage and values of its program participants. The experience and practice of Diversity in Action® have made our programs among the most unique and demanded, city and statewide.