February 1, 2024 0 Comments

February, 2024

Dear CVRAN Community,

Greetings on a snowy morning. We in Vermont get used to shifting weather, and the different types of preparation for each foray outside. On this grey day, I want to share with you some causes for celebration!

Have you noticed, that like the Vermont weather, our work with CVRAN goes through different seasons, and different preparation is needed for each one?

When our partners are newly arrived, they go through an initial period of finding and setting up a living space, taking care of urgent medical needs, learning some English, making friends, and beginning the long legal process. Now many of these partners have been here long enough to have filed asylum claims, received work permits, and one person, our first, even received asylum in December! This person recently hosted a party of all the people who had helped him along the way; over 80 friends, from CVRAN and others places alike, came to celebrate his new asylum status together. Imagine all the lives he has touched, and who have touched his life in only 2 ½ years, many of them through CVRAN.

In Ghazi’s words to the Unitarian Church:

Ghazi celebrates receiving his asylum with CVRAN President Rachel Cogbill.

“My name is Ghazi and I am from Tunisia, North Africa. When I was no longer safe in my country, it was like I lost my roots. I had to leave but because of CVRAN, I found people who helped me grow new roots, grow new leaves. Because of CVRAN, I survived. Because of CVRAN, I can produce a new life.

CVRAN does not offer only material and financial support, they offer emotional and mental support. Today I feel safe. I have a home, I have work, I am a part of a community. Without their support, I could not have done it. Nobody can remake a life without support.

I work now … and can give back to this beautiful community who supports me. …. Because of CVRAN, I can grow my life again.  CVRAN is like a candle at the end of a dark tunnel, shining hope, compassion, support.”

Other people, here for 2 years, needed to find a home in order to settle more permanently in Montpelier. You are already familiar with the house purchased for the use of one Afghan family, with the incredible help of an angel investor, the surrounding neighborhood, and more donors to CVRAN. Now a second house has been procured for another Afghan family in collaboration with Downstreet, and many individual donors and foundation contributions. It is indeed worthy of celebration to see the family’s excitement, and to think of the hours of planning, and the generosity of the many who supported this effort. The new house will be owned by Downstreet, but will be perpetually affordable to asylum seekers and refugees referred by CVRAN. Another magnificent housing success!

Not only are there achievements of this grand nature, there are many smaller bricks being inserted into the CVRAN foundation that keeps all this work going. A new CVRAN committee is working on connecting partners with job training and education. A new grant from the state of Vermont allows CVRAN (and its other partner organizations around the state) to work towards the governor’s vision of immigrants who can fill empty job positions around the state. And already, March Arts Marathon artists and sponsors are stepping up to help raise a sizeable chunk of the CVRAN budget.

Even as we celebrate the successes and growth going on, a new family from Africa has joined CVRAN’s ranks, and a team is helping them get established. The cycle starts again. One day, we hope this family too will gain asylum, be in the Vermont work force in satisfying jobs, and enrich our community. It is a very positive cycle. Feel good about your part in it!