Program areas at Interfaith Works of Central New York
Center for New americans:- helping resettle refugees: Interfaith Works, as an affiliate of episcopal migration ministries, resettled 70 refugees despite complications from the covid-19 pandemic and limitations imposed on refugee arrivals by the presidential administration. The refugees resettled in 2020 by the center for New americans arrived from afghanistan, burma, burundi, democratic republic of congo, iraq, nepal, somalia, syria and ukraine. Finding jobs and connecting with the ny department of labor: despite the challenges the covid-19 pandemic has created for employment, 138 New americans were placed into jobs during 2020. This accomplishment is only six fewer placements than the year-end total for 2019. Additionally, 32 clients participated in job readiness classes, and 45 households received help with their applications for unemployment benefits due to job loss during the early stages of the pandemic. During 2020, several companies also hired eight or more refugee clients. The companies included a myriad of warehouses, including those specializing in cold storage, electronics assembly and food production. The average hourly wage for those jobs was $12.50. Funding received from the city of syracuse and the u.s. department of housing and urban development enabled 275 clients to avoid homelessness and utility disruptions. Clients were linked with essential government and private programs that enabled them stay safe and warm in their own homes and avoid further complications resulting from the covid-19 pandemic. Through matching grant and employment placement, 23 individuals were provided alternatives to public assistance benefits. For the second year, pebble hill presbyterian church continued to provide space for the match grant store, which allows clients opting out of public assistance benefits to receive extra items and supplies to furnish their homes. The center's intensive case management program delivered support to 40 refugee clients who needed assistance with navigating their way through the american medical and mental health systems. Additionally, the program provided $4,000 in tops gift cards, $2,000 in cash cards, bi-weekly groceries, ppe, transportation, and emergency housing assistance as part of its covid-19 response to vulnerable refugees. The center's path to citizenship program provided citizenship preparation classes to 57 individuals. Two Interfaith Works' staff, accredited representatives of the u.s. department of justice, provided immigration services to 233 clients, while assisting 63 individuals to complete their naturalization applications. Help was provided to 134 individuals in completing their green card applications. Internship opportunities were provided to 41 undergraduate and master's level students from syracuse university, university of buffalo, le moyne college, suny oswego, onondaga community college, suny morrisville, catholic university of america, and bryant and stratton college.covid-19 relief food and supply boxes: since the pandemic began in early 2020, the center for New americans team has provided 18 quarantined families (approximately 95 individuals) with 10 days' worth of culturally appropriate groceries, medication, and supply boxes including sanitization materials, using safe, contactless delivery methods. Technology distribution: grant funding provided by the mother cabrini health foundation provided technology that improved access to remote learning and education for refugee children by providing 10 televisions and 32 laptop computers. Seventy-five individuals across 14 households received this technology. Another 86 individuals across 15 households received $216 (approximately 4 to 6 worth of pre-paid internet services through spectrum), allowing uninterrupted digital and internet access for children and families to connect with online learning and educational platforms. Cna's dedicated technology coach technology also provided coaching services and consultation to all families receiving laptops. Milk distribution: through a collaboration with the human service leadership council, the american dairy association, the salvation army distribution center, the cny food bank, and the usda, the center for New americans team delivered milk and dairy products to 50 to 70 New american families on a weekly basis. The deliveries included fresh food boxes and gallon jugs of milk as part of Interfaith Works' extensive covid-19 relief effort. Diaper bank: in 2020, the agency's diaper distribution program served 234 families, 361 children, and distributed 171,620 diapers. Since its inception in 2018, cna's diaper distribution program has provided 250,530 diapers to refugee and immigrant families saving them approximately $75,159. 2019 and 2020: 282 refugees placed in jobs
Senior companion: - senior companion program volunteers helped 137 older adults in onondaga, cayuga and madison counties stay socially connected during this period of extreme social distancing. When safe, our 47 senior companions provided in-home visits to older adults and caregivers; volunteers also stayed connected through regular telephone "visits and wellness calls, and delivered meals through meals on wheels. Senior companion volunteers helped their clients live independently in their own homes, stay active, and do more of the things they need to do. Senior companions also provided respite to family caregivers who needed a break.- although nursing homes were closed for most of 2020, the one to one program continued to bring joy and social connection to residents. Fifty-nine residents received regular, weekly friendly calls and exchanged letters from volunteers. One to one also organized 15 remote social events to the program's partner facilities, including music performances, conversation groups, holiday cards and decorations, and donated artwork. Due to the remote nature of these events, we reached hundreds of volunteers from around over the nation, growing our volunteer base to unprecedented numbers.- throughout the pandemic, we continued to offer remote socialization and recreation programs to 10 older refugees. We held two, 12-week english classes, focusing on conversational english to help these elders do more of the things they want to do in the community, including working toward citizenship. We provided a series of covid-education workshops to help them better understand the pandemic, keep themselves healthy, and gain access to the resources they need. We also hosted seven workshops with community members and aging services providers, to educate them about the needs of older refugees and how the broader community can partner with Interfaith Works to be more "refugee friendly." Funding for the classes and workshops was provided by the New York state department of temporary and disability assistance and health foundation for western and Central New York.- to build capacity to address social isolation, racial inequity and economic injustice, senior services co-founded the greater syracuse aging services coalition. The coalition is a partnership with other aging services providers, including vera house, the onondaga county office for aging, black health, and a network of community centers, non-profit organizations, and faith leaders. In november, we launched a 24-person action planning team, whose goal is to define the future vision and strategy of the coalition. The action plan will be completed in mid-2021. Other initiatives include covid recovery and bridging the digital divide. The greater syracuse aging services coalition is funded by the aarp foundation and the health foundation for western and Central New York.- in response to the covid-19 pandemic, senior services staff developed New services to meet the basic needs of our clients and support their mental health and wellness. New covid response and recovery services included:o wellness calls to 120 older clients, providing referrals, friendly calls and information on how to stay socially distant, practice good personal hygiene and sanitation, and manage their health needs.o a summer distribution of "basic needs baskets," including masks, hand sanitizers, household cleaners, and personal care products, such as soap and disposable briefs, to 120 clients. The deliveries helped older adults remain safely at home and with dignity during the height of the pandemic. Funding was provided by the Central New York covid community support fund.o a daily senior chat line was established to enable older adults to stay connected and enjoy an hour of daily, telephone-based group recreation. The chat line, a partnership with national grid's "grid for good" program successfully connected isolated seniors during the pandemic, allowing them to enjoy games, wellness tips, and a good laugh.o supportive listening services connected isolated older adults with chaplains and counselors, alleviating stress and anxiety during the pandemic. Over a six-month period, 16 seniors received more than 73 hours of supportive listening services. Funding was provided by the Central New York covid community support fund and mother cabrini health foundation.o to address the impact of the "digital divide and help older adults better access services and connect with family and friends, we launched a digital inclusion program. Ten low-income older adults were enrolled in a 12-week course. The curriculum focused on helping them confidently fulfill their wishes to email, participate on video calls, perform online banking and shopping, and engage with sources of entertainment. Course participants were provided free computer tablets to keep, and free access to the internet for the duration of the course. All reported they felt more confident using online technology because of the class. The class will be repeated in 2021. Funding was provided by the mother cabrini health foundation.
Interfaith initiatives/ spiritual care: with the help of the american dairy association and human services leadership council, Interfaith initiatives, in conjunction with the center for New americans, deliver 55,000 gallons of milk and 163,000 pounds of food to 17 faith communities. Their involvement continues through the department's New pantry partners program, which seeks to connect suburban faith partners with inner city faith partners to bolster the strength of neighborhood food pantries. Additionally, the pantry partners program is developing significant relationships with the food service delivery system in the region to identify New sources of nutritious food for pantries located in the core of syracuse. The community campaign for love, launched by Interfaith Works' round table of faith leaders, is a response to the 2020 murder of george floyd and the atmosphere of hate that spiraled after his killing. The campaign is inspired by the rev. Dr. martin luther king's call for "beloved community" in which dr. king aspired to an "all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood where love and trust triumph over fear and hatred." Cc4l's initial "act of love" culminated in a kickoff event in which donated toiletry items for city of syracuse children and given to rise above poverty, a community organization that Works to provide syracuse youth basic necessities.to promote the community campaign for love and solicit community support, billboard space donated by park outdoor advertising featured the messages "what does love look like," "love looks like this and "this is what love does." The digital signage was on display for months in prominent locations in and around the city of syracuse. Building united communities integrates New americans/refugees with established american religious congregations. Although the covid-19 pandemic created some challenges, the project continued with virtual dialogues that helped sustain the project. The goals of buc, which uses dialogue, an integration framework, and learning communities, are to develop a national model that can be adopted by local congregations, then offered to other churches with similar needs. The model will benefit a diverse array of faith communities that are seeking to integrate and share worship space. In nurturing the spirit of dr. king's vision of "beloved community," Interfaith initiatives, in collaboration with other clergy organizations, hosted weekly community prayer vigils within the city of syracuse. At the vigil sites, which represented places where previous violence had taken place, the slogan "campaign for peace" was proclaimed, bringing faith communities together to pray for families affected by gun violence. The prayer vigils continue virtually on a weekly basis. While the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic prevented in-person contact, Interfaith Works chaplains continued to provide spiritual care services via tele-chaplaincy. Their services maintained spiritual care within onondaga county correctional facilities, a youth detention center, nursing homes and in local hospitals. "cny inspiration," a long-running series penned by guest columnists and managed by Interfaith initiatives, continued unabated throughout the year and can be found sundays, tuesdays and thursdays in the post-standard and posted on syracuse.com.