MANCHESTER — A nonprofit aiding in the resettlement of refugee and immigrant groups has been named a 2020 Champion in Action in the category of inclusion and equality.
Representatives from the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success were on hand Tuesday to receive the award. Champions in Action is a program that partners the New Hampshire Union Leader with Citizens Bank to award $35,000 in an unrestricted grant to nonprofits that address social concerns.
Joseph Carelli, president of Citizens Bank, New Hampshire and Vermont, said since Champions in Action began in 2002, the program has awarded more than $1.4 million to 53 nonprofits across New Hampshire.
Champions in Action not only provides funding, it promotes a nonprofit’s programs to generate interest, volunteers and donors.
The Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) is a regional leader in promoting land access, collective organic farming, market development and technical training to support new American farmers. For 11 years, ORIS has been providing farming opportunities for refugees who live in New Hampshire.
“Since the mid-1980s, over 7,500 people, individuals and families have moved to New Hampshire to create new homes,” said Carelli.
“The individuals came here for many reasons, and that’s what is so important about having organizations here that support these new Americans. That’s why organizations like ORIS are key, to create that platform to operate a significant support network.”
“I grew up here, and Manchester is all about immigrants,” said Brendan McQuaid, president and publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader. “If you look at the entire fabric of our culture, from Chez Vachon to Pulaski Park, from Glendi and now to ORIS, it is all immigrants.
“It’s more than just part of our community, it is our community. And it’s great to have another organization that is really taking that on for the newest groups of immigrants that are coming in here and helping them be more than just surviving in a new place, but become successful in a new place.”
“The Champions in Action Award will help ORIS not only serve new Americans but also to make New Hampshire a more welcoming, sustainable and vibrant area of economic opportunity,” said Mukhtar Idhow, executive director of ORIS. “We appreciate the opportunity to be part of the community.”
Southern New Hampshire refugee-farmers went mobile last summer and fall, selling fresh fruits and vegetables at five Manchester locations.
The Fresh Start Food Cart delivered produce the farmers grew in cooperation with ORIS, marking the first season for the food cart.
Idhow said the Food Cart focuses on neighborhoods with high concentrations of poor people who lack easy access to food or access to reliable transportation.
“These services are all support mechanisms that have become so important to helping individuals become acclimated to America,” said Carelli.
As a Champion in Action, ORIS will receive:
A $35,000 contribution in unrestricted funds from Citizens Bank.
Media coverage from the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Volunteer support from Citizens’ colleagues.
Promotional support highlighting the Champion in Action in Citizens Bank branches.
Exposure on the Citizens Bank website.
“On behalf of our organization, ORIS would like to say thank you very much,” said Crispin Milele, board chair for ORIS. “Your contribution today goes a long way to supporting our mission.”