Throughout its history, the United States has been a haven for refugees fleeing terror and oppression in their native lands. But the flight to freedom sometimes comes with a price: left to rebuild their lives, often without a safety net, many displaced individuals lose not only their homes and possessions but also their dignity, hope and optimism.
Project Worthmore (PWM) was created in 2011 to provide a welcoming hand of support and services to the growing number of refugees in the Denver, Colorado, metro area, with the goal of helping them become integrated, self-sufficient members of the community. Started by Frank and Carolyn Anello as a makeshift response to the unmet needs of their refugee neighbors, PWM initially recruited teams of volunteers to provide English language (ESL) classes and to meet basic needs of new arrivals.
However, it didn't take long for the Anello's to recognize that many of these refugees, who had little access to health and dental care before coming to America, also experienced multiple barriers to care once they arrived in the U.S. To help address their needs, PWM forged a unique interdisciplinary partnership with Ardas Family Medicine in 2014.
The resulting Fostering Dignity for Refugees program works to improve the quality of life of refugees by providing all-inclusive social and culturally relevant medical, mental health and dental services, as well as a speech clinic, food share program and ESL classes. Importantly, all of these services are conveniently located in one building called the Mango House.
"The partnership between Project Worthmore and Ardas Family Medicine has been an exceptional collaboration," said Frank Anello, co-founder of PWM. "Our goal is to remove obstacles for the refugee community by offering a full range of services at a single location and by including community members as employees. It's a much-needed model of support and integration that is creating an open, tolerant and informed dialogue around the country about the refugee experience and immigrants at a time when our country needs it most."