December 2, 2022

This November, IILA’s Opportunities for Youth (OFY) Program had the pleasure of hosting a Friendsgiving celebration.  Young people and their families, case managers, and program directors shared lunch together and reflected on clients’ progress since their arrival in the United States.  Families enjoyed each other’s company and young people got to know their case managers better in an environment of welcome and celebration. 

By choosing a Friendsgiving event, OFY helped youth participate in an American tradition but also encouraged them to incorporate their own cultures and traditions into the event.  Special programming like an intentional Friendsgiving helps young people process their journey to the United States by not only learning about American culture but also honoring by their roots and values. 

Young people took part in games and experienced a raffle, and all families went home with a prize. The group also shared their experiences of how integration into the community was made possible by the support of their families and IILA.  The event concluded with families taking turns to share what they are grateful for this year.  Their reflections included being grateful for: 

1) Being alive and enjoying the sun each new day, 

2) Being reunited with family, 

3) Being able to attend school, 

4) The chance to enjoy favorite activities like sports, and 

5) The opportunity to pursue their dreams (including higher education). 

Despite their difficult journeys, the families are working hard to adapt to life in the United States and are making great progress thanks to the support of the OFY team and the wider community.  The Director and staff of OFY are grateful to be able to share special moments like Friendsgiving with clients to express their support and encouragement. 

IILA’s OFY Program looks forward to continuing to offer age appropriate and culturally sensitive opportunities for youth and their families like Friendsgiving, ensuring that clients receive the help and mentorship they need to thrive.