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BRATTLEBORO — This year’s Unsung Hero Award, presented by Compassionate Brattleboro, recognizes the staff members and volunteers of the Ethiopian Community Development Council Multicultural Community Center Vermont, located in Brattleboro, and other organizations helping with the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the area.

The award ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 03, in the downstairs hall of the River Garden Marketplace on Main Street during Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk.

Accepting the award on behalf of these organizations will be Nebras Attia and Jessica Rose, who are the two case managers at ECDC/MCCV. Although Attia was unavailable for an interview, Rose described her circuitous journey to her current position.

“I always saw myself working in a field I’m passionate about,” Rose said. “I always wanted to work for an organization that has the same values I do — social justice and rights for everybody — rather than work for some corporate entity and engage with a nonprofit as a hobby.”

Rose grew up north of Boston in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies, with an emphasis on Buddhism and Hinduism, from Whittier College in Los Angeles.

“It gave me the opportunity to explore different religions that I didn’t know anything about,” she said.

Rose participated in a three-month Study Abroad program in Nepal through the School for International Training, studying Tibetan culture, language, and religion.

“But the program ended early due to the earthquake in 2015 near the city of Kathmandu,” she said. “I was evacuated to India.”

She also participated in a two-week intensive course called the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, which focused on how the United Nations works with governments to help people on the ground during humanitarian crises.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Rose returned to Nepal, where she taught English in rural communities, and backpacked alone in India, which she described as a great experience.

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Rose moved to Phoenix to study at Arizona State University, from which she received a Master of Arts in Social Justice and Human Rights.

Then COVID happened and everything shut down. Finding a job became difficult. Rose worked a series of service jobs in Phoenix — poll worker for the 2020 primary and general elections, waiter, bar tender.

“I decided to move back to Massachusetts in order to find employment in a nonprofit,” she said. “I was willing to move anywhere for the right opportunity. Then this opportunity came up. It seems as though the common thread of my whole life so far has brought me here.”

As a case manager, Rose works directly with clients from Afghanistan who have newly arrived, helping them adjust to American culture, and getting them connected to the services they need: employment, medical, food, housing.

“It’s challenging,” she said. “We’re always thinking of new ways to teach people how to live here, in a developed country, in the 21st century. It’s more than something obvious, like teaching English. For example, a client might need help with filling out a deposit slip at a bank. We have to be creative in our problem solving and patient in our teaching.”

The organization has translation services always available, either in person or via tele-translator.

Resettlement is a community effort, Rose said, and the entire community has been welcoming, including serving as volunteers and offering donations.

“This whole project has been unprecedented,” she said. “It’s been a lot of people, nearly a hundred Afghan refugees, in a short amount of time. I was hired December 1, 2021. The refugees started arriving in January 2022. Thanks go to our local partners, including Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Community Asylum Seekers Project, the School for International Training, Vermont Adult Learning, and others, who have all been incredible.

“I like working with people from diverse communities because we’re able to learn from each other,” Rose added. “It makes for a fun day.”

Nancy A. Olson writes from Putney.