On November 18, Samaritan Hospital and St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP), in conjunction with Capital District Educational Opportunity Center and other local organizations, sponsored Cuisine & Community: Support for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
The event, held at Blessed Sacrament Church in Albany, provided meals and vital goods and services to more than 200 refugees and asylum seekers currently living in Capital Region hotels. Eventgoers were able to browse tables of donated items and dine on cultural cuisine cooked by local celebrity chefs Jaime Ortiz, Dominick Purnomo, and Taffy Elrod-Ljikovic.
SPHP donated funds to secure space for the event as well as a variety of goods including winter clothing, hats, boots, gloves and other self-care items.
“We are so proud to be part of this event,” said Kim Baker, senior vice president of hospital operations, SPHP. “The people here today need help. Many don’t speak English and are struggling to make ends meet. They have also never experienced winters in upstate New York. To be able to provide warm clothes, food, and educational resources so they can start the process of securing documentation and work, is a blessing and reinforces the importance of helping others, which is at the core of what we do.”
“Our Mission is to be a transforming healing presence in our communities. While we serve people as inpatients, being able to meet them where they are and provide access to services they may not otherwise have is critical to improving the overall health in the neighborhoods where we work and live,” said Kathy DeRosa, chief mission officer, SPHP and St. Joseph’s Health.
“These new community members have faced a difficult journey with a lot of barriers,” said Dr. Denise Fernandez-Pallozzi, executive director of the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center. “We hope to remove those barriers by bringing these resources to them, so they can see what help is available and begin to navigate what can be a difficult system.”
Other contributing community organizations include the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, Al-Hidaya Center, Hudson Valley Community College, Food Pantries for the Capital Region, Honest Weight Food Cooperative, Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, RISSE, Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.