Governor Dan McKee was joined by Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation; Celia J. Blue, Interim Director of the Department of Human Services; Kathy Cloutier, Executive Director of Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island; and James Jahnz, Secretary for Catholic Charities and Social Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Providence on Monday to announce the launch of Afghan Relief RI.
Afghan Relief RI is the state’s effort, in partnership with Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, the Catholic Diocese of Providence, and Rhode Island Foundation, to provide support to evacuees arriving to Rhode Island from Afghanistan through an online portal, AfghanReliefRI.org. The portal connects Rhode Islanders interested in helping resettlement efforts to the volunteer and donation services set up to support evacuees.
“Three months ago, I wrote a letter to President Biden offering our assistance to welcome Afghan evacuees to Rhode Island. Since then, the state has partnered with resettlement agencies, the Rhode Island Foundation, and several other organizations to make sure we, as a state, are ready to provide the services and supports they need. I thank the generous Rhode Islanders and businesses who have made this possible, and look forward to continuing to welcome our Afghan allies to the Ocean State,” said Governor McKee.
As part of Afghan Relief RI, Governor McKee and Neil D. Steinberg also announced that the Refugee Relief Fund, with the support of generous donors, has raised nearly $1.5 million to provide funding for basic needs to benefit the children and adults arriving in Rhode Island as a result of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
“As the state’s community foundation we are pleased to offer this support, thanks to our generous donors,” said Neil D. Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “There are incredible community organizations working around the clock to ensure a smooth transition for each Afghan evacuee – both the children and the adults who are arriving in Rhode Island – we are grateful for their tireless efforts, and for the warm welcome our new neighbors are receiving.”
All gifts to the Fund will be distributed to support evacuees via the two official refugee resettlement agencies in the State of Rhode Island – Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island and Catholic Social Services, part of the Diocese of Providence. It is expected that approximately 250 Afghan evacuees (about 60 families) will arrive in Rhode Island over the next several months. Gifts to the Refugee Relief Fund at the Foundation will provide support for basic needs, particularly housing, food, transportation and other day-to-day expenses.
The Foundation seeded the Fund with a $100,000 gift, and Dorcas International Institute also secured more than $100,000 to contribute to the effort. In addition 40 generous corporate, family, and individual donors have contributed nearly $1.5 million to the effort. Donors include, Bill and Judy Braden, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, Ruth and Jonathan Fain, FM Global, Mark Gallogly and Lise Strickler, Gilbane Inc., the Harvey Family Fund, Margaret G. Leeson, Kathy and Brian MacLean, The Papitto Opportunity Connection, and the George M. Barbara H. Sage Fund, and United Way of Rhode Island.
“The mission of the Rhode Island Department of Human Services is to be there for people in need, and it is our vision that all people who live in this beautiful State have the resources and opportunities to thrive at home, work and in the community,” said DHS Interim Director Celia J. Blue. “Just as our staff work hard every day to get assistance to Rhode Islanders, we will do the same for our new neighbors and we have been happy to work alongside many community partners to respond to their arrival.”
“Helping those who seek refuge in Rhode Island is simply what Dorcas International is all about,” stated Kathy Cloutier, the organization’s Executive Director. “We are proud to be part of this joint effort as it helps ensure a safe and successful resettlement for the many families who’ve fled their homeland.”
“The Diocese of Providence is grateful for the partnership with the Governor, the Department of Human Services, the RI Foundation, Dorcas International, as well as the many social service agencies involved in this collaboration,” said James Jahnz, Secretary for Catholic Charities and Social Ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Providence. “As the next several months play out, our diocesan Immigration and Refugee Services office will be working to ensure that those Afghan evacuees being resettled here are able to access the services they need and be given the best opportunity to transition life in Rhode Island. The successful establishment of this fund is further proof of the warm welcome that Rhode Islanders are giving to our new neighbors.”
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