Each month this year, Amplio will be highlighting a different non-profit partner providing job preparation and job training within the refugee communities we serve. More than just words, we are committing to financially support the work of the partner we select each month and want you to join us! We will match every dollar given to the Amplio Foundation this month, up to $1000, in support of this month’s partner.
Once nicknamed “Goatsville” for the small town’s disproportionate number of Angoras, Clarkston, Georgia is now best known as being the most diverse square mile in America.
In the 1990s, resettlement agencies recognized that the suburban space would make for an ideal “landing pad” for newly arriving refugees. It was close enough to Atlanta to give individuals access to public transportation, while being far enough away to boast an abundance of economical housing.
The result? The town’s population exploded. By 34%, to be exact.
As more refugees became residents, many individuals recognized the need for ancillary transitional services, beyond the government’s limited assistance. Pat Maddox was one of these.
After volunteering and connecting with many new refugee families through her local church, she was impressed to play a greater role in empowering refugees to thrive. Over the years, many others who felt called to extend God’s welcome to foreigners began building long-term relationships with their international neighbors alongside Pat.
In 2005 “Friends of Refugees” became its own non-profit, which today offers a holistic family of programs:
- Embrace, a birthing ministry where certified doulas provide assistance to pregnant refugee mothers.
- Refugee Family Literacy, an early childhood development program and ESL/Civics school for over 400 mothers and children.
- Jolly Avenue Garden, an agriculture and nutrition program with youth training and garden plots for over 100 families.
- Start:ME, an intensive 14-session business accelerator in partnership with Emory that helps launch 16 new businesses every year.
- Youth Programs, providing summer camp, mentoring and tutoring opportunities for youth.
- And Café Clarkston, now called the “Refugee Career Hub”, started by Adam Hoyt, offering vital access to technology and resume assistance to refugees seeking employment, as well as computer literacy classes, mentorship relationships, and career preparation classes.
Lauren Brockett is the Director of Employment Services at Friends of Refugees. An immigrant herself, Lauren grew up watching her father undergo challenges of finding employment.
“He knew English, but as an immigrant it was hard for him to build social capital. People didn’t recognize his credentials. He had to start from scratch.” It is an experience, Lauren says, she “tucked away” in her memory.
Lauren graduated from Emory University with work experience in equal employment opportunity analytics, human resources at a hospital, immigration law; then leadership development at Habitat for Humanity, and finally as a consultant. Despite her impressive resume, after giving her life to Christ, she had just one prayer: that God would utilize her collective experiences to make a difference.
It was at this time, in 2012, that she first volunteered with Friends of Refugees and quickly fell in love with the vibrant ministry, which seemed an answer to her prayer.
“I remember looking for a job for years. When you’re consulting, you’re always having to sell yourself and find the next contract. I felt a lot of desperation and hopelessness. Imagine people who don’t know our language, along with post-traumatic experience, and are unable to articulate their value. This moved me to say, ‘Let me share my tools with you…’”
After a year with the organization, Lauren accepted the role of Director of the Refugee Hub. Since 2013, Friends of Refugees has experienced exponential growth. Increased publicity last year, surrounding refugee resettlement, spurred an influx of eager volunteers, creating a “good problem” for the small team of about 20 staff.
This growth allowed them to serve over 6,000 refugee families this past year alone, operating on volunteers and a diverse funding pool including individual and church contributions, along with occasional grants and corporate donors.
Mekuanent, a 2018 Refugee Hub graduate, completed the job readiness, solar installation training, and web development classes. Now, he’s an electrical technician for Atlanta transit line, MARTA. He shares the impact these classes have made in his life:
“Before, I didn’t know about anything around computers, but after graduating from the coding class, I can communicate with my friends in other countries and show them what I am doing in America. Thank you to Miss Lauren, Mustafa and Professor Sol for giving your time to me because my life is now changed and I have direction to focus.”
Looking forward, Lauren shares, their goal is to build deeper relationships with the individuals they serve. Lauren adds, “Not only will we continue to place 250 refugees in local jobs, but we will improve the retention rates of our core business partners because they will receive new hires who were fully involved in choosing a long-term career in that industry.” Lauren’s motto will remain the same for every refugee she meets, “Your choice matters the MOST, and we won’t allow you to settle for less! Help us, help you achieve your dreams in this country.”
“Refugees are people—just like you and I… the only difference is we haven’t experienced the level of trauma they have. They’re grateful to be in the United States, a place of peace and safety.”
Friends of Refugees shares our common heart for empowering refugees towards self-sustainability. At Amplio, we are proud to labor alongside them in connecting these capable and dependable individuals to living-wage jobs within the Atlanta community.
Join us in supporting their incredible work. For the month of October, every donation you give to the Amplio Foundation will be matched and given to help their worthy cause.
To make a charitable donation, visit the Amplio Foundation page and follow these three easy steps:
- Scroll down and click the Donate Now button.
- Fill in the amount and payment information, as well as whether you would like for it to be a one-time gift or recurring donation.
- Click the Give button and you’re done!
Thank you for partnering with us to support the refugee workforce.