Paving the Path: As we wrap up another year, we focus on a few refugees who exemplify the differences new Americans make for their communities. Don't miss our Fact Corner trivia at the end!
 


Call Your Congressman


This week we expect the critical final vote on the annual budget bill that will fund U.S. agencies for 2016.

Before the final votes are cast, please make your voice heard. Tell your Representative’s office that, as a constituent, you OPPOSE legislation that would cut or stop funding to the refugee resettlement program.

Let them know you oppose legislation that would halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees, or only allow Christians to be resettled. Use our easy-to-follow guide on our web site to support the program.

Welcoming Syrians 


On Saturday, December 12, we participated in a Welcome Reception for Syrian refugees hosted by members of DeKalb County's existing Middle Eastern communities and municipal leaders.

Held at the Clarkston Community Center, CEO Paedia Mixon offered her welcome on behalf of resettlement agencies while Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, Rep. Hank Johnson, and DeKalb County Chief of Police Cedric Alexander offered their own welcomes on behalf of city, district, and county.

Congressman Johnson also welcomed 12 Syrian families, who arrived in Georgia between March and November 2015, to join him on stage. We are proud to see such a strong welcoming community here in Georgia.

A Clarkston First


On Monday, December 14, the Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (CRSA), along with the City of Clarkston and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, hosted the first U.S. Naturalization Ceremony in Clarkston.

We welcomed 13 new Americans as citizens of the United States. All are former refugees from countries ranging from Sudan to Vietnam and all hail from the Clarkston area.

This was the third naturalization ceremony the CRSA helped organize this year, resulting in 44 new U.S. citizens, all of whom were invited to register to vote following their ceremonies. 
Thanks to these generous donors for their recent contributions to our programs:
  • Anonymous – $25,000 for Young Women’s Leadership
     
  • Cohen Family Foundation – $25,000 for Vocational Counseling
     
  • The Imlay Foundation – $25,000 for Vocational Counseling
     
  • Journey Foundation – Family Match Literacy
     
  • Sartain Lanier Family Foundation – three-year grant of $45,000 for Education
     
  • TIF Foundation – $13,000 unrestricted 

Holiday Helpers


The holiday season brings out the best in our supporters. Through our Secret Santa program, community members and faith partners have donated over 275 individual items to be given directly to afterschool youth and newly arrived families. These items include toys, beginner’s books and household items such as vacuums and small appliances that will make the holidays brighter for new Americans in Georgia.

Want to be a Secret Santa? There’s still time! You can order items directly from our Amazon Wish List to ship to our office, where they’ll go to those in highest need. 

Join our Team


We’re expanding our team – and we want you to join us! We have 11 open internship positions for the spring in departments ranging from Finance to Advancement to Immigration – all of which will allow you to work directly with our talented staff and build your knowledge of refugee and immigrant issues.

We also have a part-time AmeriCorps position open in our afterschool program.

Find out more about all of the positions, and how to apply, on our web site

Welcome to the Team 

New American Pathways is proud to welcome Fasil Muche to our Board of Directors.

A native of Gonder, Ethiopia, Fasil grew up under the dictatorial regime of Mengistu Hailemariam, but was able to flee to join two older brothers in Atlanta in the mid-1980s. While struggling to acclimate to this new culture, Fasil found a new haven at the Atlanta International School where he graduated to attend Morehouse College. Working to pay his way through college, Fasil soon faced the fear of deportation, but friends rallied around him at a local hearing.

Fasil later became a U.S. citizen and successfully graduated from college. He is now married and is the owner/operator of Crown Cab Company. He is an avid volunteer with Hands on Atlanta, where he feels he can give back to a community that gave him so much. 
Here are our top in-kind donation needs this month:
  • Baby Items: Many refugees are also welcoming their own new arrivals. We often need help finding cribs, car seats, pack and plays, strollers and other baby items.
     
  • Gift Cards: For those last-minute needs, a great way to give is to purchase gift cards for places like Kroger, Wal-Mart, Target or MARTA .
Keep up with our most pressing needs on our Wish List and Amazon pages.

Interested in donating your car, truck, motorcycle – even your motor home – to New American Pathways? We work with CARS to do the heavy lifting. Here are the details.

Fast Facts

Our focus this month is on refugees who have made a difference in their communities. American culture itself, from business, to sports, to music, would not be the same without refugees. Here are a few examples:
  • Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and Pixar and a true example of American success, was the son of a Syrian immigrant. His birth father, Adbdul Fattah Jandali from the now-devastated city of Homs, Syria, left the Middle East after political persecution. He and his future wife gave up Jobs for adoption but reconnected with him in his adult years.
     
  • In September, University of Michigan Wide Receiver Amara Darboh made what was likely the most memorable touchdown of his career.  Just two days after the former refugee from Sierra Leone became a U.S. citizen, Darboh opened the game against Brigham Young University with a touchdown, which set the Wolverines off for a victory on the day.
     
  • Refugees who have changed the music industry include: Freddie Mercury of Queen (Zanzibar), Rita Ora (Kosovo), Mika (Lebanon), Wyclef Jean (Haiti) , Gloria Estefan (Cuba), K’Naan (Somalia), M.I.A. (Sri Lanka), Chiam Witz aka Gene Simmons of KISS (born in Israel to Hungarian Holocaust survivors) and, of course, Georg and Maria von Trapp (Austria).

Celebrating New Americans

This month we highlight a handful of stories about amazing refugees who have made an impact in the United States, in Georgia, and even some who have passed through New American Pathways’ doors. In a quick Google minute, you can find many, many more!

Ehsan (left) works with Mount Paran Church's ministry department, often taking large-scale donations to nonprofits in Atlanta.

A Life in Service

If you ask Ehsan, he’ll tell you that life is about service – no matter where you are. 

A part of the persecuted Christian minority in Iran, Ehsan never let the turmoil of his home country stop him from a life of service.

“My goal is to be useful for humans in my life,” Ehsan says. “When I’m doing something useful, it makes me so happy.”

Ehsan had big goals early in life. He planned to come to the U.S. to study but could not due to the lack of connection between his homeland and the U.S. He soon realized his true calling was closer to home.

In 2005, he fled to Turkey due to religious persecution, where he worked as a missionary for eight years. He also spent that time volunteering with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees serving other refugees in Turkey and across the Middle East.

While serving in Turkey, Ehsan made some important connections with other missionaries that would be critical to his success after arriving in Georgia.

Ehsan’s arrival to the U.S. was anything but smooth. Originally scheduled to set-down at the end of January 2014, the late winter ice storm had his arrival delayed in Miami for four days. But once he arrived and was resettled by New American Pathways, Ehsan got started on achieving his American dream. 

Learn more about Ehsan's good works on our web site.

Shakir (right) arrived in the U.S. in 2014 and works with Communicycle in Clarkston. Shakir worked with New American Pathways' Melodie (center) and Kate (left) from the Georgia Department of Transportation for the Clarkston Bike Rally. 

It's All About the Bike

On December 5, New American Pathways hosted the second Clarkston Bike Rally in partnership with Clarkston Communicycle (a program of the Clarkston Community Center) and in coordination with the Georgia Department of Transportation. The rally focused on delivering bike safety and maintenance education to refugees, who then took home brand-new bikes donated by an Atlanta-area corporate donor.

Shakir, who now leads the Communicycle program, appreciates the importance of a new bike. After arriving with his brother and two sisters from Iraq in July 2014, Shakir noted just how confusing public transit could be in a town that is focused on cars. When he received a donated bike from New American Pathways, Shakir turned his passion and previous background in bicycle repair into a career serving his fellow new arrivals. He began contracting with New American Pathways shortly after his arrival, helping with apartment set-ups, translation and driving. Less than one year later, with support of our vocational counseling program, he found a job with Clarkston Community Center leading their Communicycle program. Now, he serves over 100 clients per week with trainings, bike clubs and hand-on maintenance in the community.

Shakir brought this Communicycle work to the Bike Rally this month. Between the September event and this one, more than 100 new Americans took home a bike they’ll be able to use to get to work or school. But Shakir isn’t done yet. While he continues to serve the Clarkston community, he’s looking forward to attending college down the road. He plans to study something in the non-profit or international relations field.

Derrek Kayongo, a former refugee from Uganda, is the new CEO for Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights. 
Photo courtesy of National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

From Soap to Civil Rights

“When you open your eyes, what do you see? What events in your life can you use to inspire hope in the world? Mine has been a very simple thing. Soap.”
– Derreck Kayongo, TED Talk, May 2014

On December 4, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. in downtown Atlanta announced a new chief executive officer: Derreck Kayongo, a 45-year-old former refugee from Uganda. If you have a chance to hear him personally tell his story, take it.

As a child, Kayongo found inspiration in watching his parents reinvent themselves – working from being teachers to being entrepreneurs. But, everything changed when civil war broke out during the Idi Amin regime and Kayongo and his family were forced to become refugees in Kenya. His parents became teachers once again.

Kayongo immigrated to the U.S. several years later as an international student in 1995. Having lived in extremely unsanitary conditions in Kenya and having witnessed the fatal diseases too often associated with those conditions, Kayongo was struck by the bounty – and waste – of soap in the hotel industry in the United States. The American hotel industry throws away 800 million bars of soap a year – that’s 2.6 million bars a day.

Of the 2.4 million children that die globally due to lack of hygiene and sanitation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 47 percent of these deaths could be prevented if soap was made available to them. Kayongo came up with the idea for The Global Soap Project during one of his first stays at an American hotel.

Read more about Derreck Kayongo on our website.

"I will always feel an immense gratitude to this country, one shared by the millions of other refugees who have come to our shores in the years since—including Eastern European Jews, Hungarians, Vietnamese, Somalis, Cubans and Bosnian Muslims." - Madeleine Albright

Refugees Changing the Country - Madeleine Albright

November 11 marked a little-known anniversary in the United States: On that date 67 years ago, Madeleine Albright, likely the country’s most famous refugee, arrived in New York with her family.

Nearly 50 years later, the little refugee girl from Czechoslovakia, who had survived war and political persecution along with her family, would go on to become the highest-ranking woman in the United States and the first-ever female Secretary of State.
 
Read more about the historic life and career of Madeleine Albright on our web site

Jynnah Radford is the current Career Services intern at New American Pathways. Growing up between the U.S. and Jamaica, Jynnah says she understands what it is like to have to uproot yourself and move between cultures. 

Volunteer of the Month:
Jynnah Radford 

“I know how it is to restart your life. I also know how important it is to connect your old life with your new life.” Jynnah Radford describes how she has been able to empathize with the refugees New American Pathways serves and connect with her volunteer service and her internship in our Career Services department.

Jynnah’s family is from Jamaica. She spent her most of her childhood moving between two cultures, so she had to adjust to frequent transition from her culture of origin to American culture. She managed to connect her life in Jamaica to her life in America and she wants to help others do the same. 

To read more about Jynnah's work, check out the rest of her story on our web site.

CALENDAR

 

December


19   Volunteer Orientation 
To be held at the New American Pathways office from 10:45 a.m.- noon. Contact Teni-Ola Ogunjobi to sign up at volunteerengagement@newamericanpathways.org. This will be the final orientation of 2015.

24-28 Office Closed 
The New American Pathways office will be closed in observance of the Christmas holiday Thursday, December 24, Friday, December 25 and Monday, December 28. Some staff may be out additional days. 

30 CDC Museum Exhibit Closes 
The CDC Museum's special exhibit "Resettling in America: Georgia's Refugee Communities" closes on December 30. Be sure to make time to see this once in a lifetime exhibit before it is too late. 

31-01 Office Closed 
The New American Pathways office will be closed in observance of the New Years holiday Thursday, December 31 and Friday, January 1. Some staff may be out additional days. 
 

January


06 Volunteer Orientation 
To be held at the New American Pathways office from 9:45 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. Contact Teni-Ola Ogunjobi to sign up at volunteerengagement@newamericanpathways.org. 

21 Volunteer Orientation 
To be held at the New American Pathways office from 5:45 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. Contact Teni-Ola Ogunjobi to sign up at volunteerengagement@newamericanpathways.org. 

30 Volunteer Orientation 
To be held at the New American Pathways office from 10:45 a.m.- noon. Contact Teni-Ola Ogunjobi to sign up at volunteerengagement@newamericanpathways.org. 
 



2300 Henderson Mill Rd., NE  |  Suite 100  |  Atlanta, GA 30345  |  404.299.6099
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