In the News / June 2016

Albany agencies honored for work with refugees and asylum seekers

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Times Union article

A Jewish congregation, Lutheran church and the Albany city school district will be honored Monday at City Hall for their tireless work on behalf of refugees and their assistance in helping asylum seekers resettle in Albany.

The Capital Region Refugee Roundtable, a volunteer group that works closely with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, or USCRI, will present the three organizations with 2016 awards of recognition.

“We recognize these three organizations for dedicating their time, resources and programs in a welcoming climate to refugees who have resettled in Albany,” said Dahlia Herring, a roundtable member and organizer of Monday’s ceremony.

The recipients are:

Congregation Ohav Shalom of Albany for helping refugee families from Afghanistan. Led by Rabbi Rena Kieva and volunteer Sandy Cohen, the congregation’s Welcoming the Stranger Committee helped solicit cash donations and gather furniture, household items and other donated supplies to furnish the family’s apartments. Ohav Shalom volunteers also brought the Afghans shopping and assisted with English tutoring and mentoring skills on an ongoing basis.

English as a New Language Department, city school district of Albany. Director Thomas Giglio and his team, who work in English as a New Language and refugee services, are dedicated in helping teach English to the newcomers and they also provide resources, support and guidance on a host of cultural adjustment issues. The number of English language learners in the district has increased threefold, from 300 to about 1,000 in the past decade.

Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit of Albany for providing space for English language classes and the weaving projects of refugees from Myanmar who are of the Karen ethnic group. They are among the more than 1,200 Burmese refugees who have resettled in the area through USCRI and the more than 3,000 refugees resettled here since 2005. The number has grown to more than 400 annually. Pastor Dave Preisinger creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere and encourages parishioners to plan and participate in multi-cultural activities at the church, which is located in the Delaware Avenue neighborhood where many Burmese refugee families live.

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