our story

The Luminus Network for New Americans grew out of an informal support service for foreign-born students at Howard Community College (HCC) in 1981.  Born as the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network (FIRN), the idea came from our founder, Pat Hatch, as a place where immigrants and refugees could ask questions and get support without feeling uneasy. Pat shared her idea with the Columbia Foundation and with HCC’s teachers of English as a Second Language, whose students were continually posing questions that had little to do with English, but much to do with their survival in a new culture.

Pat and HCC joined forces. With initial seed money from the Columbia Foundation, FIRN opened its doors in October 1981, staffed only by Pat. In its first year, the project served 90 persons from 10 countries. In 1984, FIRN was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Slowly its services expanded to include immigration counseling, interpreting and other critical social services.


Renamed the Luminus Network for New Americans in 2021, Luminus serves immigrants from more than 90 countries and is well known as the key resource in Central Maryland for New Americans while sharing their contributions with the greater public. Luminus understands that all people deserve belonging, share something unique as individuals who make a home in our community, and alongside our volunteer Luminators, can imagine and shape a better future.  We live with those universal truths in providing direct service and celebrating and sharing the stories that make us stronger and illuminate our communities. 

our values

We believe that support for individuals and families is most impactful when services are integrated and holistic

We believe that all of society benefits when New Americans are empowered to realize their dreams, contribute to the economic well-being of their communities and participate fully in the life of the community

We believe there is strength in unity and immigrant communities are empowered when they come together in common purpose, which is centered on unifying New Americans, not dividing them

We believe that by sharing the stories, histories, and contributions of New Americans we promote public understanding of the integral role they play in the social and economic vibrancy of our communities