In 2007, Gloria Dei Hispanic Mission and the Northwest Indiana Lutheran Hispanic Mission Society started up a variety of classes to serve the local Hispanic community. Being almost entirely volunteer run, this crucial academic support to newcomers proved to be a valuable resource in our community. Having been a volunteer since the beginning, Jessica Burkman was entrusted with the oversight of all the educational programs in 2010.
While the original emphasis was primarily on caring for Hispanic immigrants, the program expanded to support the needs of all local immigrants, refugees, and international student families. Our diverse group grew to welcoming families from approximately 35 different countries, speaking more than 15 different languages. In 2010, the name Compass International Family Center was adopted to reflect the variety of countries and age groups coming to learn how to navigate their new life in our community.
In 2011, the formatting was changed to house all Compass programming on the same days, times, and location, forming a support system for the entire family to attend together. Participants of all ages and backgrounds began arriving to attend one of the following areas of support: Adult English (multiple levels), Citizenship classes, GED Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, English Learner Preschool classes, or childcare for our youngest participants. While our group initially began with only a few, Compass grew to approximately 100 participants and 40 annual volunteers by 2015.
Under the faithful leadership of Jessica Burkman as Executive Director and her husband, Tim Burkman, serving as Compass President, we established our own non-profit 501c3 status in 2017. In 2018, the Burkman family moved to Michigan, and the organization is now under the leadership of longtime Compass volunteer and employee, Tonia Frederick, with a dedicated Board of Directors.