Twice a month, 200 or more recent immigrants from Haiti are eager to get to Brockton Public Library. It’s time to see Sabyne Denaud and her team from the International Institute of New England. These new community members have escaped life-threatening conditions in their home country and often endured dangerous journeys to find safety and a new start in the U.S. Many have been drawn to the city of Brockton, Massachusetts to join an already large community of fellow Haitians—about 13% of the city’s population.
They come to the library to attend IINE’s all day “intake clinics” because they need the help of a resettlement agency to unlock access to the vital support for which they are eligible when they arrive, including food and cash assistance. IINE also supports them in applying for the documentation they need to join the workforce, and once they’ve completed intake, Sabyne, IINE’s Lowell Senior Program and Contract Manager, and her team of Case Specialists check-in with their new clients monthly to ensure they are getting their basic needs met and are on pathways to greater self-sufficiency in the U.S.
Meeting People Where They Are
Sabyne helps fellow Haitian immigrants connect with vital resources during an all-day intake clinic.
Partnering with Brockton Public Library solves a big challenge that Sabyne identified last fall. Sabyne is herself both a Haitian immigrant and a Brockton resident. She joined IINE in 2016 as a Case Specialist and has helped to resettle hundreds of refugees from all over the world. She now focuses more intensively on the thousands of immigrants coming to Massachusetts from her home country. This past year IINE served 5,869 Haitian clients across our three sites, and Sabyne personally helped hundreds of them.
As she knows well, Brockton is about 50 miles from IINE’s Lowell office, and most of her Haitian clients do not own cars. To reach Lowell, they often had to either borrow money or pay for ride shares out of their federal benefit checks. As word spread throughout the Haitian communities in Brockton and surrounding towns about the help IINE could provide, the need for a local meeting space became clear, and Sabyne decided to try her local library.
“I don’t live far from BPL,” Sabyne explains. “I usually went just to get books for my kids and me. I knew they have awesome staff—but not that they are this awesome!
When Sabyne asked the library for a room to use for meetings each week, they were quick to oblige. She and IINE Case Specialist Rachelle Honore immediately started meeting with about six clients each week.
“Then,” says Sabyne, “word of mouth started to spread about how IINE had been so helpful to them. After a month, instead of six at a time, I started getting 20 clients at a time. The room couldn’t hold us. Now, because the library has cameras, they realized so many people were coming and going. They approached me to know if I would need more support because they saw a lot of clients coming in asking for help, so I talked about what IINE does and how we support clients.”
“I Could Not Ask for a Better Partner”: Collaborating with Malice
Malice Veiga, Librarian at Brockton Public Library
The partnership with Brockton Public Library was taken to a whole new level when Sabyne was introduced to Malice Veiga —a long time BPL staff member who has worked with the local Haitian community for years as an English for Speakers of other Languages teacher and an event coordinator. In addition to making sure that Sabyne and her team would have two large meeting rooms each month, Malice took it upon herself to help recruit and register people for the clinics between sessions, brought in volunteers to keep things running smoothly, and made sure Sabyne had access to library equipment to help with processing.
“Malice is very organized. She makes sure that everyone that comes with her gets services as soon as possible. The waiting list is long. They make it run smoothly,” says Sabyne. “We have a big conference room where everyone who needs services can sit in and we have another private room where we meet with clients. We do intake in the clinic with 10 at a time. BPL opens the door for us and even makes sure we have water. They give us access to the printer so we no longer have to pay for clients to make copies. We are now seeing 200 clients each month and we absolutely could not do it without BPL and especially Malice.”
Malice is as enthusiastic as Sabyne is about the clinics. “They are a lot of work, but I love it. I like the fact that Sabyne’s team works well with each other to service our Haitian community who I’ve worked with for many years.”
Malice adds that she has learned first-hand that the clinics are both vital and appreciated, “This partnership is crucial for families because lives are being changed with financial assistance and support from organizations like us. The services that are being provided to the Haitian community are priceless. Many are relying on them to support and help their families. They don’t have any other financial assistance except what we are offering to them until they can find a job, which will take some time just getting a permit before they can work. When clients tell us ‘Thank you for your help, we really appreciate it,’ that brings me joy to my heart.”
IINE serves refugees and new immigrants who are overwhelmingly low-income with limited support networks, and are traditionally among the most underserved groups in the U.S. We connect newcomers to basic needs, services, and opportunities, including cultural orientation, housing, food, healthcare, education, employment, and community connection. Learn more about our case management services.