Assisting Afghans to Relocate, Educate, Assimilate in Western New York
Pictured at press event left to right: Grace Di Virgilio, MLS, Co-coordinator & Circuit Librarian at Hospital Library Services Program; Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, Executive Director at International Institute of Buffalo; Councilman David A. Rivera ; Denise Phillips Beehag, Director of New American Integration at International Institute of Buffalo; Gabrielle Harrington, representative from the office of Sen. Sean M. Ryan.
The Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC) Hospital Library Services Program (HLSP) is partnering with the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB), located in Buffalo, New York, to provide personal assistance and technology to empower recently resettled Afghan refugee families to enhance their new lives here in Western New York. With case workers and volunteer interns, participants in this program will be aided in accessing essential services, including online services, such as obtaining healthcare, attaining citizenship, and caring for their families by providing for basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing.
The IIB employs case workers who train volunteer interns to work with members of the Afghan community, particularly those who are identified as vulnerable or at-risk such as the elderly or those with chronic medical conditions. Case workers will act as Health Navigators for this population, assisting them with meeting basic needs such as making a doctor’s appointment, arranging transportation, seeking employment and more. WNYLRC and its member libraries operating in areas of Afghan refugee resettlement will be available to support case workers and volunteer interns who may not be thoroughly familiar with online health information services such as MedlinePlus.
This Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) Region 7 Technology Improvement grant is providing for the purchase of 39 Chromebook devices. The IIB will distribute the devices to participating Afghan families and provide instruction in basic use of the device and training in locating health information through MedlinePlus. One HLSP Co-coordinator shares, “Our hope is that having access to a device and being able to find reliable health information, especially in one’s native language, will ease the transition for many of these relocated families.” Program participants will be directed to use their devices at public libraries, the IIB, and other secure places having free Wi-Fi. In addition, participants are encouraged to apply for free or reduced cost Internet access through the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Case workers and volunteers can provide application assistance to families in the program.
“Through demonstrating access to MedlinePlus.gov on these devices, we hope to increase participant access to authoritative and reliable health information online. MedlinePlus provides health information in many languages.”
WNYLRC is a not-for-profit consortium of libraries and library systems serving six counties: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, and Orleans.
Contacts: Grace DiVirgilio, firstname.lastname@example.org, 716.633.0705 ext.120 Todd Brooks, email@example.com, 716-883-1900 Ext. 361