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Posts Tagged ‘new americans’

Suzanne knows what sorts of stories would be good for this blog. I love one that she passed along at Thanksgiving.

It’s by Elizabeth Rau at East Side Monthly, and it’s about a charitable effort to help refugees acclimate to a new life while working.

“The holidays are upon us. What to do?” asks Rau. “You can drop a ten-spot on useless things … or you can buy a bag of granola made here in Little Rhody.

“This wholesome, mostly organic granola is irresistible: It tastes good and is lovingly whipped up by refugees trying to start over in a country that can be intimidating and tough to figure out.

“The Providence Granola Project was founded by Keith Cooper and Geoff Gordon during a deep talk one night about how to help people who come to America with nothing more than a suitcase.

“Keith, a Yale graduate and former campus minister who lives with his family on the East Side, had one of those aha moments. He’d been making granola for years in his kitchen. Why not turn his hobby into a business and mobilize refugees too? The two friends shook hands. A company was born.

“That was five years ago, and Providence Granola is still going strong. In rented space at the Amos House soup kitchen in South Providence, the company makes 1,000 pounds of granola a month.  …

“For years, Keith worked at the International Institute of Rhode Island, settling refugees here. … Keith was moved by what he saw at the institute — dignified and hard working men and women who want to succeed. With so many obstacles in their way — no money, language barriers, a different culture — you’d expect them to give up. But they don’t.”

Granola has given many of these people a new start. Read more here. And here. Read especially about Zaid Wadia, a 35-year-old Iraqi refugee, determinedly upbeat and grateful despite a very tough past life.

Photograph: image by Ryan T. Conaty

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