Welcome to another week of our Meet Your Staff Monday Series, where we’ll be highlighting the different members of our team and letting you get an inside look at some of the wonderful people who help further the mission of the Institute!
Today we’re speaking to Bob, our New American Integration Coordinator!
Please state your name and the position you hold at the Institute.
Bob Doyle, New American Integration Coordinator.
What is your favorite activity to do outside of work?
If I had to pick one thing it would probably be traveling. I love going places where I can practice speaking other languages, explore amazing urban and natural scenery, and try new (or familiar) foods.
Since there’s been a lockdown I’d say that’s changed to cooking and eating meals with my partner that we wish we could be enjoying in other places – some recent successes include making our own Moroccan spice blend for some seafood & cous cous combos, ham and cheese crepes, croissants, and an Ethiopian inspired shakshuka. Recent fails include our attempt at recreating his mom’s Malabar fish curry and some mediocre croquet madams with the worst mornay sauce in world history.
What is your favorite local immigrant/ refugee/survivor-run restaurant or business?
I love Nelai Banana Leaf on Transit – great South Indian food and I can’t find any other South Indian restaurants in Buffalo. I also love Taj Grill for Indian, Romeo & Juliet’s for a panino & espresso, Kiosko Latino for their al pastor and pernil, and the arepas from Ranchos on Niagara.
How long have you been working at IIB?
Since January 2021
Can you tell us a bit about your position and/ or department?
The New American Integration Coordinator works closely with the department director and the case managers to ensure the success of all of our different programs. I work a lot with Denise on things like grant applications, new programs, and administrative tasks. For resettlement I help the case managers out with some administrative stuff, assure new cases for the Institute, and do compliance and financial reporting. I also work with different community groups on program development around common issues or challenges they identify in their communities, such as the new ONA Professional Pathways program we are launching this summer.
What is one way you/ your department has worked through the pandemic to continue your services?
I joined IIB during the pandemic, so things had been virtual for a while by the time I came on board. One thing that I think took some getting used to was everything going virtual instead of in person. I think this had a big impact on our clients – a lot of people had to do things like virtual ESL classes or over-the-phone meetings, so I imagine it has been a bit more difficult to meet new people or communicate without things like hand gestures.
What is one thing you’d like our community to know about refugee/survivor populations?
No one just wakes up one day and says “I’m going to be a refugee!” – there are a lot of rough situations around the world that force people to flee their homes, families, and friends. We have so many people in Buffalo who were doctors and engineers and teachers back home who never thought they’d be moving halfway around the world, learning a new language, and raising their kids in an unfamiliar culture. I try to remember every morning how lucky I am – as Americans we’ve never experienced anything like this, and I would encourage our community to learn more about why refugees are coming to the US and what most people have to go through to get here.
What is one thing the community can do to help further your work or our mission?
We have been busy this spring and summer welcoming new families to Buffalo and I recently had the pleasure of helping one of our Case Managers with an apartment set up for a new family. It was such a great experience. I would encourage everyone to think about volunteering a bit of their time, even if it is just an afternoon to help set up an apartment for a new family. It was a fantastic experience and really helped to connect me to what matters the most about our work – the people we work for.
If you can’t give your time or hate unpacking boxes, you can also consider donating household items for our new neighbors. We make sure families have bedding, toiletries, cooking supplies, groceries, and some other basic necessities to start their new chapter in Buffalo comfortably. Every little bit helps!