For nearly a decade now, New American Pathways has been making a real difference in the lives of tens of thousands of refugees and immigrants. As we gear up to celebrate our tenth anniversary, I want to take the time to look back on our inception, the creation of the Pathway model, and highlight our commitment to building communities that reflect the strength and resiliency of the people we serve.

New American Pathways emerged from the merger of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA) and Refugee Family Services (RFS). RRISA provided traditional resettlement services. RFS’ programs were focused mainly on women, children and families. Interestingly, RRISA saw the number of refugees accessing their services skyrocket during their first year in the country and then again at about year five of the resettlement process when participants were ready to apply for citizenship. Down the street, RFS saw the opposite: clients were accessing programs and support in the intervening years from arrival to citizenship. In coming together, New American Pathways was made to bridge the gaps and provide a continuum of services.

Our Pathway model isn’t something we just came up with out of thin air – it’s the result of talking directly with the refugee community. Through these conversations, we came to learn exactly where our participants need the most help on their journey. We offer programs and services that assist with early employment, support for children and their educational needs, and legal advocacy—just to name a few. Taking their success even further, we encourage community involvement through voter registration and leadership development opportunities. One of our core beliefs is that the ability to build and support the community resides within it. That’s why it is so important to involve our community of new Americans who have already walked along the Pathway. They are some of the most passionate, dedicated, and capable guides for those who have just started their journey.

As we continue to meet the needs of a diverse, vulnerable, and expanding refugee and immigrant population here in Georgia, our resolve remains the same: to have the courage and determination that matches those who come to us. Our mission is for refugees and Georgia to thrive. We want to help develop strong families and communities. And we want to build on all our successes alongside those who come with us.

Over the years, we’ve faced plenty of challenges – from uncertainty and changes in immigration policies to calls for quick response to crises of displacement in Afghanistan and Ukraine. Our steadfast partners, amazing staff, and stellar volunteers are the primary reason for weathering such storms. But the need for our programs and services is ever growing. For every step on our clients’ pathway, from arrival to citizenship and beyond, we plan to be here to provide continuous support for decades to come.