Photos from Creative Commons
When Abdul (name changed) came to the U.S. early in 2022, he started working in the first job he could find: delivery driver. It was a far cry from his professional career in Afghanistan where he was an environmental and construction engineer for many years.
ReWA director of Family Support programs, Gizachew Manahle said the Day 1 housing program supports immigrant and refugees who are un- or under-employed and on the verge of homelessness.
“For many immigrants who have higher education and worked professionally, moving to the U.S. often means ‘starting over’. They end up in a survival job which puts them at high risk of losing housing. Also, when a person’s education and training aren’t put to use, it can be very demoralizing. And, their new community isn’t benefiting from their skills either.”
In his new job Abdul worked long hours every day, rarely saw his six children. Even with food stamps, he could barely earn enough to cover rent. He came to ReWA for help. ReWA’s Day 1 program provides case management support and short-term rent and tuition assistance to help them achieve economic and housing stability.
Abdul met with his career coach and made a career plan. He learned that with his engineering expertise, he could finish a six-month certification course and start work as a construction scheduler—a well-paid professional position that would return him to the career he had dedicated much of his life to.
But the training was full time. With tuition and rental assistance from ReWA’s day 1 program Abdul was able to focus on his studies, and invest in his future for his family.
When Abdul finished his certification, his career coach helped he update his resume, create a LinkedIn profile, and attend some job networking events. Within a month of finishing his certification Abdul was hired as a construction scheduler and earning a salary that would support his family.
Because the program uses a whole-family approach, his Day 1 case manager helped Abdul identify meant to pay utility bills while also enrolling in his wife in English classes and assisting her with a survival job search.
Manahle said the Day 1 program has helped over 161 families to remove major barriers to housing stability. He said this is done by addressing issues in housing, employment and social emotional wellbeing. Day1 participants end up in jobs ranging from logistics coordinator, truck driver, preschool teacher, medical assistant, quality assurance associate, research coordinator, constructions scheduler, drafter, phlebotomist, IT assistant and a car mechanic.
Yana Dareva-Morrison, ReWA Career Coach and Business Developer, who works closely with Day 1 participants, said, “When people come to us, we aim to create a trusting relationship so they can get guidance and clarity about their career path. This helps them navigate the U.S. job market—from the initial job search, to the interview, and finally the salary negotiation stage—we help them step confidently into that process.”
If you want to learn more email Day 1 case manager, Mohammed Beena at firstname.lastname@example.org.