Boston | Lynn | Worcester - Mass. [email protected] 617.238.2430

Cummings Foundation

RIAC awarded $100,000

 Boston nonprofit receives Cummings Foundation grant

Boston, June 3rd, 2019 – Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC) is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. The Boston-based organization was chosen from a total of 574 applicants during a competitive review process.

RIAC is a community-based, non-profit, grassroots human service agency that provides comprehensive services to refugees, asylees, and immigrants. Services provided include refugee resettlement, asylee case management, counseling, outreach and education, and other social services.

Representing RIAC, Executive Director Mariam Gas, and Director of Community Services Naima Agalab joined approximately 300 other guests at a reception at Trade Center 128 in Woburn to celebrate the $10 million infusion into Greater Boston’s nonprofit sector. With the conclusion of this grant cycle, Cummings Foundation has now awarded more than $260 million to Greater Boston nonprofits alone.

“With this grant we will be able to better assist the community we serve. We are very thankful for the Cummings Foundation,” said Mariam Gas, executive director of RIAC.

The grant will support the academic and social development of refugee and immigrant youth through tutoring, community building, leadership development, case work, mental health services, higher education and vocational training guidance.

The $100k for 100 program supports nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the area where it owns commercial buildings, all of which are managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate Cummings Properties. Founded in 1970 by Bill Cummings, the Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 10 million square feet of space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“By having such a local focus, we aim to make a meaningful positive difference in the communities where our colleagues and leasing clients live and work,” said Joel Swets, Cummings Foundation’s executive director. “We are most grateful for the nonprofit organizations that assist and empower our neighbors, and we are proud to support their efforts.”

This year’s diverse group of grant recipients represents a wide variety of causes, including homelessness prevention, affordable housing, education, violence prevention, and food insecurity. Most of the grants will be paid over two to five years.

The complete list of 100 grant winners is available at

Cummings Foundation announced an additional $15 million in early May through its Sustaining Grants program. Through these awards, 50 local nonprofits will receive ongoing funding of $20,000 – $50,000 for 10 years.

The history behind Cummings Foundation is detailed in Bill Cummings’ self-written memoir, “Starting Small and Making It Big: An Entrepreneur’s Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist.” It is available on Amazon or

About Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center (RIAC)

RIAC, formerly known as the Somali Women and Children’s Association, was founded in 1993. RIAC is a community-based, non-profit, grassroots human service agency that provides comprehensive services to refugees, asylees, and immigrants as well as the larger community. RIAC offers the following range of services to support successful resettlement and to self-sufficiency: Refugee Resettlement, Post-Resettlement Support Services, Community Education & Outreach, and Counseling Services. Additional information is available at

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities in Marlborough and Woburn. Its largest single commitment to date has been to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Additional information is available at

RIAC youth basketball competition on World Refugee Day on 6/22/19

RIAC kids on World Refugee Day on 6/22/19 #100Kfor100



Summer Intern Highlight

Summer 2018 intern, Hannah Rosenstein, shares her experience at RIAC. We were so grateful to have her in the office assisting with various projects. RIAC’s staff and clients will miss her but are wishing her the best in the rest of her studies!

This wonderful video was put together by Brown University, please click here for the full story.




School Supply Drive

RIAC will be collecting School Supplies through August 20th for refugee and immigrant students! If you have any questions, please reach out to Gabrielle at [email protected] or call the office at (617)238-2430. You can drop off donations at RIAC’s office at 253 Roxbury Street, Boston, MA 02119, Monday-Friday 9:00-4:30.


Interested in Volunteering?

We have received a flood of interest in volunteering over the past couple of weeks, and are developing a broader slate of volunteer opportunities than we have had in the past. Many of these will be on an as-needed basis. This provides flexibility to both volunteers and clients, especially if you are unavailable during weekday business hours.

Volunteer opportunities may include:

– Transportation (picking up/dropping off donations, transporting clients to/from appointments, assisting with airport pick-ups)

– Help with community events (such as the World Refugee Day block party we held last weekend)

– Translation assistance

– Assist families with daily tasks (locating grocery stores, using public transportation, etc.)

– Accompany families on fun activities in the area (exploring Boston landmarks, visiting parks and museums, etc.)

– Cultural orientation and English speaking practice


If you are interested, please send the following information to Gabrielle at [email protected]:

Name, Address, Phone Number, Email 

Access to a car/willingness to assist with transportation? If so, how many seats? Do you have car seats for children?

Do you speak any languages other than English?

What days/times are you available to volunteer? We will try not to bother you with requests that do not match your schedule.

What days/times are you available to come to RIAC for a 1-hour orientation session? This will most likely be a weekday evening.

Once we have this information we will schedule an orientation session and begin contacting you with opportunities to volunteer. If you have any questions please contact Gabrielle at [email protected]

Hiring CSP Case Worker- Set your own hours!

Community Support Program (CSP)

  • The CSP provider will be staffed with paraprofessionals capable of meeting community support needs of psychiatric issues for children, adolescents, and adults; chemical dependency issues; and issues of dual diagnosis.
  • CSP programs will include, at a minimum, a staff worker with specialized training in child/adolescent development (for child /adolescent CSP programs), behavioral treatment, substance use/dual recovery issues, and family treatment/engagement/education regarding psychiatric and substance use recovery issues.
  • All staff, at a minimum, must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Those who do not meet these criteria may apply for a waiver through MBHP’s credentialing committee.

Refugee CSP job description

A Case Worker is responsible for developing meaningful relationships with clients/families dealing with a variety of mental health and practical needs. Responsible for assisting clients in finding areas of competencies, building on competencies, locating community supports and in the development of psychosocial skills. Case Workers are responsible for the development of written assessments, some treatment planning, case presentation and review. Flexible hours, Case Worker has control of their schedule.

The statements below are intended to describe the essential functions and competencies of the person or persons assigned to this job.  They are not intended as an exhaustive list of all job duties and responsibilities.

Refugee CSP job responsibilities

  • All staff must attend monthly supervisions.
  • All staff must submit billing within 24 hours of seeing clients.
  • All staff must have a minimum of 4 clients.
  • All staff are responsible for completing paperwork for each of their clients in a timely manner.



1.         Demonstrated expertise in both linguistic and cultural context through academic and/or personal experience.

2.       Demonstrated flexibility, creativity and comfort with working with clients in a broad range of settings and in a variety of roles to support clients in meeting treatment goals.

3.        Ability to work as a part of a team as well as independently.

4.       Strong verbal and written communication skills.

5.        Ability to develop working relationships with collateral resources and community service providers.


1.         Increase access to informal and formal supports,

2.       Mobilizing formal and informal supports to meet the needs of the client/family

3.        Advocacy and empowerment with client/family

4.       Education for systems and individuals to ensure appropriate quality of care

5.        Education regarding how to navigate the healthcare system

6.        Clinical services to reconcile the client’s culture and belief system with the healthcare and legal systems, including increasing the client/family and system’s understanding of the role and consequences of decision making and strengths based communication

7.        Assessment of the relevance and efficacy of treatment/service plans from a cultural/linguistic perspective

8.        Development and application of a macro-level perspective of the community, including strengths and resources as well as challenges or gaps in services.

Develops a healthy working relationship with other collaterals and community resources involved with clients and their families:

1.         Client’s progress and problems are represented to and advocated for in the community.

2.       Problems are discussed freely before they develop into crises.

3.        Outside providers are involved in a collaborative effort to implement treatment strategies that respond to client needs.

4.       Client, individual, team, and agency are represented in a responsive, appropriate, professional manner.

 Provides crisis intervention:

1.         Develop creative and proactive approaches to client’s crisis patterns.

2.       Assist in the development of individualized crisis intervention plans.

3.        Participate in on call pager coverage for program and site.

 Other responsibilities:

1.         Responsible for the completion of progress notes, ancillary client documentation in client record,  and submission of any and all billing

2.       Incident reporting and any documentation as required by supervisor.

3.        Responsible for upkeep and organization of client record.

4.       Must meet and follow all team and agency policy and procedures.

5.        Attends all conferences, meetings, supervisions and trainings necessary for quality job performance.

6.        Performs all other reasonable tasks designated by the Program Director, Regional Director or otherwise designated supervisor.


If you are interested in applying, please contact the Director of Finance and Administration, Anab Egal at [email protected] or (617)238-2432.

Hiring Part-Time LICSW

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker – Part-time

**This position is for 4 hr per week. Schedule can be flexible to meet your needs!

Under minimal supervision, provides clinical social work services to assist clients and families cope with

complex personal, family, and environmental problems. Performs psychosocial and risk assessments,

assigns diagnoses and develops and implements interventions and treatment plans. Participates in

planning and implementing of discharge and individual service plans and works with community teams

and outside agencies to plan, implement and follow-up on treatment and provision of needed services.

The staff at RIAC works together to provide quality care that makes a difference in the lives of

historically underserved communities and that leads to a satisfying and rewarding work environment.

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Counsel clients in individual and group sessions to assist them in dealing with emotional and mental illness, esp. trauma or physical abuse, substance abuse and domestic violence. Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, and confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of client. Modify treatment plans according to changes in client status. Educate clients and community members about mental and physical illness, abuse, medication, and available community resources.
  2. Collaborate with counselors, physicians and nurses to plan and coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and client needs.
  3. Participates and effectively uses supervision to enhance practice by incorporating feedback from supervision.
  4. Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals and medical necessity for treatment. Assist clients in adhering to treatment plans, such as setting up appointments, arranging for transportation to appointments, and providing support.
  5. Refer client or family to community resources for housing or treatment to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  6. Counsel and aid family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or family.
  7. Clinically current and demonstrates commitment to professional growth.

Minimum skills, knowledge and requirements needed for the job

  1. Knowledge of theories, principles, and concepts typically acquired through completion of a Master’s degree in Social Work and a minimum of two years experience.
  2. Analytical skills to collect information from diverse sources, apply professional principles in performing various analyses, and summarize the information and data in order to solve problems for relatively complex systems.
  3. Great communication skills in order to effectively deal with conflicting views and mediate fair solutions, or well developed writing skills.
  4. Work requires regularly stooping, bending, reaching and grasping objects above and below shoulder level and frequently reaching and grasping objects at shoulder level.
  5. Work requires regularly grasping and fine manipulation with hands.
  6. Regularly proofreading and checking paper and digital documents for accuracy.

Certification, Registration, or Licensure required by the Job

Current state licensure as a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

If you are interested, please submit your CV to:

Anab Egal, [email protected], (617)238-2432

253 Roxbury Street, Boston, MA 02119

Empowering Refugees in Worcester

Geri and her son, Jo, usually wake up around 4:30 in the morning, when she washes and prepares breakfast for him. Two hours later, Geri carries Jo to a friend’s house more than one-half mile away. During winter months in Massachusetts, temperatures at this hour can hover around zero degrees. Jo will stay at the friend’s house, waiting for a bus to bring him to daycare. Geri will not see her son off to school, however, because she has to walk back home, where a driver picks her up and brings her to work thirty minutes away.

Recently Geri sat in my office, a pile of mail stacked in her lap. I sorted through the letters, discovering that her food stamps (SNAP benefits) needed to be recertified. It takes about two weeks to recertify Geri’s SNAP benefits. During this time, we helped her sign up for WIC (Women, Infants and Children), a federal nutritional assistance program for mothers of infants and young children found to be at risk of food insecurity or malnutrition.

“When my food stamps were stopped [early last month], I had to use money to buy food for me and Jo,” Geri tells me.

While Geri completed a SNAP-Path-to-Work program in December, sponsored by Worcester’s local community college, Quinsigamond, and funded through the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), she has had trouble finding full-time employment in her area of training — home health aide.

Additionally, the hours of Geri’s part-time job have been reduced, as the holiday season when business was booming has passed. She struggles to pay her rent and phone bills, on top of the $45 she owes weekly for childcare and nearly $80 she must pay every week for transportation

In late January, Geri began worrying about her upcoming rent payment. She shares a room with other refugees, paying $300 per month. This is an affordable rate considering how housing prices across Worcester are skyrocketing. However, by the first of the month, Geri only has $28 in her account and anxiously awaits the arrival of her next paycheck.

Living paycheck to paycheck is the reality for many people trying to navigate rising housing costs and general living expenses. When you couple this stress with many refugees’ history of trauma and depression, on top of balancing English classes and working low-skill and often arduous jobs, most of our clients barely get by.

On the day of my writing this blog post, Geri’s son, Jo, has been sick with a high fever. The daycare will not accept him, out of fear of getting other children sick. So Geri has to decide whether to stay home with her sick child or be absent from work. She is afraid that missing another day of work will set her further behind in affording rent.

This type of compounded disadvantage, as social researchers have termed it, tends to disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable members of American society. Refugees tend to occupy lower economic classes, having been forced to leave behind their livelihoods and start anew in a foreign land with limited financial support.

Moreover, the stories people tell of America abroad can differ sharply with people’s everyday realities. “Many in the camp think the streets are paved with gold,” one Nepali interpreter told me about Bhutanese refugees’ perspective of America. The struggles of integration tend to break down these visions of America, however, and left in their wake are communities like Worcester, where residents and agencies alike are seeking to empower immigrants, refugees and asylees who have fallen through the cracks.

“I just want to work and support my two kids,” Germaine, a single mother who lost her husband during war in Central African Republic, recently told me. As Germaine and I spoke, I extolled the benefits of her kids growing up in Massachusetts, where renowned medical centers, robust welfare programs and excellent educational opportunities create pathways for low-income residents to achieve upward mobility. Two days before and at her employer’s request, Germaine worked a double shift beginning at 11 AM and finishing early the next morning.

Today, she and I celebrated the arrival of her first paycheck. Despite relying on federal support of $1100 upon arrival, refugees like Germaine are not expecting a hand out. At RIAC Worcester we operate three federal programs, “Resettlement and Placement” (R&P), Match Grant and “Preferred Communities” (P.C.), all of which aim to promote refugees’ self-sufficiency.

“I want to work and help to pay rent,” another client, Kara, recently told me. She has been receiving unemployment benefits after being laid off from her housekeeping job. She suffers from a chronic blood condition as well as blindness in her left eye, but still strives to support her family.

During my time at RIAC, I have come to know refugees who, despite their hardships, find within themselves resiliency – a fighting spirit that allowed them to leave behind homes owned by families for generations; flee violence and go to overcrowded and segregated camps resembling prisons more than temporary housing; and find refuge in distant cities like Worcester, where they must meet the daily challenge of learning a foreign language, culture and lifestyle. Like the ancestors of nearly all Americans, refugees press forward because it is the only way to realize the dream of a better life.


Written by Andrew White, Americorps Member.

The names in this story have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

School Supplies for Refugee Students

As families around Boston prepare their children to return to a new school year, many of our refugee and immigrant families are doing so as well. For some of our students, this will be the first “back to school” experience they’ve had in the United States. As parents know, this can be a stressful and exciting time of year. Students get to pick out new clothes, backpacks, supplies and lunchboxes, all in anticipation of the year to come. For our families, this can be a huge financial burden and they are often not able to provide their children with the essential (and extensive) school supply lists sent by teachers.

RIAC has been extremely fortunate this month in receiving donations from community members in order to assist our students and families in preparing for school. Joshua, who believes that every child should have access to an education, organized a supplies drive in his community. He delivered a donation of 30 backpacks, over 2,000 pencils, more than 100 notebooks, and various other supplies.

This week, many students came into our office to pick out their new backpack, filled with the supplies they would need for the upcoming year. Thank you Joshua, for helping these students start off their year fully prepared to learn, grow and make a difference in the future of our world!