20 Dec 2021
As Afghan refugees arrive in Rhode Island daily with nothing more than the clothes on their back, the Papitto Opportunity Connection has partnered with Dorcas International and joined forces with several businesses and organizations to support the Refugee Relief Fund. The organization makes sure those entering the Ocean State receive a warm welcome, experience a seamless transition, and have their basic needs met as they look to resettle in Rhode Island.
As part of this effort, Papitto Opportunity Connection invested in Beautiful Day, a Providence-based granola company that helps refugees adjust to life in America by offering paid, on-the-job training. Every job at Beautiful Day is designed to be part of a hands-on classroom where trainees gain critical skills and the confidence to enter the job market.
The many BIPOC refugees that enter Beautiful Day’s training program have fled their homes due to violence. Many spent decades living in refugee camps under primitive conditions before coming to America to rebuild their lives.
The refugees arrive in America and find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, amongst unfamiliar faces. While many are able to adapt quickly and find employment, others find the adjustment challenging due to language barriers, lack of transferrable skills or emotional issues related to the trauma they experienced fleeing their home countries. Beautiful Day’s mission is to provide job training for refugees who need extra support.
Time & Attention
“Refugees come here and it can be overwhelming,” said Rebecca Garland, director of strategic partnerships for Beautiful Day. “Adjusting to the unspoken rules of the American workplace is hard. Our goal is to help refugees become self-sufficient. We invest a lot of time and attention in each of our trainees. Through our training program, refugees gain the competencies and confidence they need to succeed in permanent jobs. “
The workforce training program includes a stipend for each participant.
“We really make an effort to make sure they are earning while they’re learning,” said Garland. “The Papitto Opportunity Connection has made it possible for us to increase our trainees’ stipends. That’s pretty incredible.”
Beautiful Day’s training program works. Over 70% of Beautiful Day’s trainees have found permanent work after graduating from the training programs. Currently a dozen former trainees are now part of Beautiful Day’s staff. Countless others have landed jobs outside of the organization.
“Our model works…These are people who have considerable employment barriers when they come to us. They need training and to build their confidence. We provide that,” Garland said.
In addition to training programs, Beautiful Day also manages several programs designed to educate the public about refugees, including hosting speaking engagements at schools and civic groups. “Proudly made by refugees” is included on Beautiful Day’s packaging.
Support from the POC will allow Beautiful Day to grow, increase its staff and enhance its programs.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the Papitto Opportunity Connection. The POC grant is transformational for us in that it will enable us to increase the salaries and stipends of all our refugee trainees and staff and to add two new positions: a volunteer coordinator and a case manager/job developer,” said Garland. “With salaries and stipends approaching living wage rates and extra staff on hand to provide additional services, we are moving closer to our goal of providing the best job training and social support possible for refugees of color in Rhode Island.”