An End of Year Message from Our Executive Director


Dear PWM Community, 

In February of this year, Project Worthmore celebrated ten years of working with the refugee community in the Denver-metro area. In April, we purchased the building that houses our offices, ensuring that we will grow even deeper roots and remain a hub for families for decades to come. Our staff grew, as did our programs and community. Despite the pandemic, our organization was able to adapt and meet the changing needs of newcomers. 

Now, we find ourselves in the middle of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and even more growth and change for our organization.

Most of us are aware that the previous administration did all they could do to dismantle the resettlement program, admitting just over 11,000 refugees in their last year, a historic, and heart-wrenchingly low number. Because of this, we saw refugee resettlement programs and support mechanisms overseas and domestically begin to crumble. We saw the infrastructure collapse in a time when over 80 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes— a number that has doubled in the past decade. Instead of stepping up as leaders in human rights, our country took a step backwards and away from its moral responsibility and commitment to help refugees. 

We knew that refugee numbers would increase with the change of administration. What we did not know was what would happen in Afghanistan this past August. We were all glued to our screens, watching people who served along our military clinging to the sides of airplanes, hoping they could be part of the 100,000 who were being evacuated. Our hearts broke as we thought about how they could be our fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, children. Our hearts broke as we realized that they were someone’s brother, father, mother, sister, child. I think we all watched, with broken hearts and hands covering our mouths in complete shock as we thought about what it must feel like to have to make split-second life or death decisions amongst the panic, chaos and fear. 

By the end of September, we began seeing Afghan evacuees from the Kabul airlift referred to our dental clinic, English program and food program. What we heard was that in the aftermath of the chaotic withdrawal of US and NATO forces, and with a resettlement infrastructure that was repeatedly attacked for four years, the people who made it here have been through unimaginable and sustained anguish. We have heard some alarming and agonizing stories of many whose children and spouses have been left behind due to the chaos at the airports in Kabul, some who have had family members sent to other countries while they were sent here, stories of measles outbreaks on military bases, stories of desolation. 

Colorado has welcomed 1,000 Afghans since late August, and there are still 1,000 more that will be here in the next few months. In November, we were asked by our partners at the state to assist with the resettlement process beginning in January. We feel honored by this and understand that these families will rely on us for initial housing, their first jobs here, applying for all initial benefits and enrolling their kids in school, as well as putting down roots in their new country.  

Just in the past two weeks, we have hired two new staff members from Afghanistan and are preparing to work with families who have been in transition since August, and who are ready to begin their new life here in Colorado. Although resettlement in this capacity is new to us, we have been hard at work to ensure we are prepared for when these families arrive. I am now asking you to please consider a year end gift, which will go directly towards supporting newcomers and providing them the warm welcome we ourselves would want. 

In deep gratitude, 

Frank Anello, Co-Founder and Executive Director

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