In these challenging times it is remarkable to me how communities across the country are coming together.
People are taking social distancing seriously, school districts are doing their best to provide remote learning, companies are manufacturing ventilators and other equipment as quickly as they can, neighbors are checking in on one another, and Congress even passed bipartisan stimulus legislation.
The IINE community is rallying as well.
The immigrants and refugees we serve continue to inspire us. Many of those we trained to work in hospitals and medical centers are among the 1.7 million foreign-born healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
One of our refugee clients who arrived in the past year to Manchester, New Hampshire has a car, and volunteered to pick up and deliver food to neighbors in the local refugee community who typically rely on public transportation.
Ever resilient, refugee and immigrant clients who worked in the hospitality industry are taking jobs at grocery stores, food warehouses, and medical manufacturing facilities.
Our management team quickly set up systems that enable us to deliver services remotely. IINE employees, who just three weeks ago worked to find people jobs, are now on the phone helping clients file for unemployment insurance. Our legal team is working by phone and video to process immigration forms. IINE staff are dropping off food and donated emergency funds to people who are unable to buy food or pay rent and utility bills.
At our Boston site, we launched distance learning English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. In Lowell, a group of volunteers is providing one-on-one remote video tutoring to adult English students, and our Refugee Youth Mentoring program continues with an online hangout for mentors and young people.
We quickly expanded our highly popular Suitcase Stories® program to an online platform, and launched a membership program called “Suitcase Stories Circle” for those who want access to additional resources and content.
Our donors are coming together as well. A group of volunteers who provide lunches and snacks to IINE students appealed for donations from their circle of friends, and hundreds of you have donated and sent words of encouragement in recent weeks.
Rather than bemoan our common fate, this Sunday morning seems like the right time to give thanks for all the good things taking place within our community.
We thank you for supporting our work and hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy.
President & CEO