Matt Karkut, the new executive director at Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center in Durango, is looking to strengthen and expand programs and services as well as revamp the organization’s dated website.
“We are hoping to grow,” Karkut said. “We’ve always been a small organization, and we’d like to increase staff and provide more classes, programs and services for immigrants.”
Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center helps immigrants – legal and people in the country illegally – obtain driver’s licenses, provides general information about immigration and provides information about governmental or nonprofit services tailored to meet immigrants’ needs.
The center also offers Know Your Rights classes that provide information to immigrants about their civil rights in the United States. The center has no lawyers, and Karkut said it does not give personal legal advice to immigrants.
The center also works with other partners to provide classes for immigrants, such as cooking classes and yoga classes in Spanish to help them integrate into society.
“Our mission is to help marginalized people who have it rough. Ultimately, our goal is to help people,” Karkut said.
The website remodel is aimed at making online interactions with the center easier and at creating an accessible way for people to donate to the center.
“We don’t charge for our programs and services,” Karkut said. “We rely on private foundation donations and the local community to support us. We couldn’t do our work without the generous support we receive.”
Karkut moved to Durango in 2018 when his girlfriend began working with the Southwest Conservation Corps. Initially, he worked as a volunteer at the center. He applied to be executive director of the organization in fall 2018, when Danny Quinlan, the previous executive director, told him he would be departing and suggested to Karkut that he apply.
Karkut, who has a degree in philosophy, political science and economics from Pomona College in Claremont, California, has worked as a translator for immigrants in Utah. He also worked for a year in Spain teaching English, led a youth group tour of Costa Rica and spent a semester in college studying in Spain.
“We serve to empower immigrants in the Four Corners to live fulfilling lives, to achieve self-sufficiency, to be active members of the community and to be able to raise children to their full potential,” he said.