USCRI VT Nov Newsletter

Well it looks like winter is here, so we’re getting our supply of donated coats and winter gear out to families and new arrivals as quickly as possible over the coming weeks. We’d like to thank the students of the Rooted Organizing Community from Burlington High School for all their help reorganizing our donations last week and to everyone who has donated warm clothes and outer wear for families in need this season! 

USCRI Vermont Profiles 

Corinne Johansson has been teaching New Americans through USCRI Vermont since 2017. She has taught a variety of classes from ELL at Parent University, the Family Room, and the Community College of Vermont to Citizenship in Winooski, and English for Specific Purposes for employees at the Birnn Chocolate Factory in South Burlington.  Currently, Corinne is teaching the first cohort of students in the first USCRI Digital Literacy class and is so grateful for this opportunity for her students. Although this is the first digital literacy class that Corinne has taught via Zoom, it is not her first experience teaching computer skills to New Americans. She facilitated two computer literacy classes, one at the Family Room and another at the King Street Center in collaboration with Bjorn Norstrom of Technology for Tomorrow. Together Corinne and Bjorn taught a very successful computer literacy program for Corinne’s ELL class at CCV for five months prior to the pandemic. Corinne is constantly amazed by her incredible students.

Say hello to Yoga Subedi,  USCRI Vermont’s full-time Nepali and Hindi interpreter and translator. Yoga was resettled by USCRI in 2009, and quickly began helping Bhutanese refugees as an interpreter after being hired. In his 11 years of service at USCRI, Yoga has worked as an interpreter for the courts, hospital, social service agencies, schools, law firms, and employers. In addition to interpreting, Yoga trains novice interpreters  and service providers on best practices for working with interpreters and was recently nominated for the Crystal Family New Hope Award for his work with UVM Health Network Home Health and Hospice. In his own words, Yoga is committed to “providing help for clients with Limited English Proficiency to bridge language and cultural gaps so that clients and service organizations can connect more effectively.” Yoga has two sons and enjoys spending time with his family.

Program Updates & Family Success

READY4Life – USCRI Vermont is proud to be one of eight USCRI field offices and affiliates to be awarded a Relationships, Education, Advancement, and Development for Youth for Life (READY4Life) grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. Funds from the grant will be used to strengthen and promote healthy relationships among young refugees and immigrants through education and comprehensive case management, with the overall goal of helping youth build healthy relationship skills while supporting positive socioemotional development. READY4Life is a nationwide program that serves refugee and immigrant youth ages 14 to 24, including low-income, at-risk individuals, individuals with disabilities, single parents, and other underserved populations with five-year grant awards to refugee and immigrant assistance agencies. READY4Life comes as an offspring of Refugee Family Strengthening program which USCRI successfully coordinated over the past five years. Lessons learned and numerous partnerships forged during that period are a good foundation for launching READY4Life.

State of Vermont COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee
USCRI Vermont Director Amila Merdzanovic was recently selected to serve on the State of Vermont’s new COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee. The Committee was convened by Vermont Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mark Levine to examine vaccine access strategies once a vaccine becomes available, with a specific focus on ensuring people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including Black, Indigenous and people of color, have equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. An overview of the initial plan and more information on the issue can be found here:

Congratulations, Fardusa! – The USCIS office in St Albans, Vermont has recently begun swearing in new citizens one by one with the American flag flying beside them. There were no color guards, officials, or extended family and friends, but Fardusa, a refugee alumni of USCRI Vermont, could not have been prouder to have passed the test and become a U.S. citizen. Her journey from war to safety took decades. As a young girl, she and her family had a happy life in Somalia. Then conflict forced them to flee to Yemen. With a growing family of her own, Fardusa had to be the sole support and caregiver for her children for years. Eventually with refugee status, they were sent to Romania until they could come to the US and begin their new life in Vermont. Fardusa was so excited to exercise her right to vote in the upcoming election. Importantly – ballots are now translated into Somali, recognizing the value of Somali citizens in the community. Fardusa and her family planned to celebrate her achievement.

We are pleased to announce that USCRI Vermont alumni Mohamed Jaffar was named one of the recipients of the 2020 Crystal Family New Hope Award given annually by The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity. Congratulations!

Donor Support

We would like to thank all of our donors, partners, and ongoing supporters who make the services and programs we offer possible, including recent donors the William and Gertrude Shelley Family Foundation, the Williston Rotary Club, Bob Kloos, Heather Cole, James Vielkind-Neun, the Vermont Community Foundation, and to all the donors who contributed In Memory of longtime USCRI Vermont supporter Rachel Thibault. To make a contribution, click on the Donate button below and choose “Refugees and Immigrants in Vermont” in the drop-down menu on the donation form.

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Copyright ©2020 U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. All rights reserved.

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Colchester Office
462 Hegeman Ave, Suite 101, Colchester, VT 05446
Phone: 802-655-1963

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