OneMorgan County fosters relationships among diverse people and organizations to strengthen the well-being, safety, and cohesive nature of our community.
We celebrate a vibrant and thriving community enriched by meaningful relationships built through trust, friendship, and cultural exchange.
OneMorgan County (OMC), an award-winning non-profit organization, fosters community cohesion in Morgan County—a predominantly rural area in eastern Colorado. OMC started in 2005, part of a volunteer-based community initiative, spearheaded by Morgan Community College Adult Basic Education staff, to address a long-standing disconnect between the community’s established residents and immigrant population. A disconnect that was due, in large part, to a lack of cultural understanding and distinct differences in languages, cultures, and religions. Following months of studied planning and collaboration with diverse community stakeholders, OMC received financial support from a Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative (SIRFI) grant of The Colorado Trust to develop a plan to support immigrant integration in Morgan County. With technical assistance from Denver’s Spring Institute of Intercultural Relations, fiscal oversight from Morgan Community College, and guidance from a volunteer advisory council, among others, OMC developed an approach to immigrant integration, based on building trust, shared values, and common experiences to bridge cultural, religious, language, and social differences, resulting in a thriving, cohesive environment. In 2009, OMC transitioned to an independent non-profit organization.
Interestingly, the story of Morgan County’s demographics is rooted in its strong agri-business sector which, since the late 1890s, has been drawing immigrant laborers, familiar with rural and small town living, to work in physically demanding, unskilled jobs that, historically, have not required English language proficiency. In 2005, for example, the city of Fort Morgan became a secondary migration area for the resettlement of Somali refugees to work at Cargill’s Meat Solutions processing plant. By the end of 2013, over 1,000 Somali refugees had resettled to Fort Morgan, joined by refugees from other east African countries. (According to U.S. Census 2013 estimates, Morgan County, with a population of about 28,400, ranks 6th highest among the state’s 64 counties for the number of foreign born, at 12.6%. Further, approximately 26.5% of the population speaks a primary language other than English.)
Over the past several years, Morgan County’s increasingly diverse population led to a corresponding need for community cohesion initiatives, which OMC provides through its programs. For OMC, community cohesion initiatives contribute to the overall climate of inclusiveness in Morgan County, and demonstrate that there are mechanisms for decreasing barriers to productive intercultural interaction, such as opportunities for positive dialogue, relationship-building, intercultural communication skills training, and access to accurate information and services. It is OMC’s belief that as barriers are identified solutions can be developed!