We are happy to share the following letter (below) with you, which we submitted to the Rutland Herald in July on behalf of Rutland Young Professionals.
The board of directors took the issue of whether to comment on refugee resettlement very seriously, and engaged in three extended discussions in July about whether to send a letter or make a public comment, and about what our message should be.
As you will see in the letter below, the board determined that this issue is directly related to RYP's mission, and decided to submit a letter of support and a public comment explaining how and why we see the issue as related to our work. As you will see, the tone of the letter is positive and celebrates our community's strengths and hopeful future.
At its July meeting, the nine-member volunteer board of Rutland Young Professionals voted to send the following letter of support for refugee resettlement to Rutland to Ms. Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration with the U.S. Department of State:
Dear Ms. Richard:
As directors of Rutland Young Professionals, an independent nonprofit social and professional networking organization in Rutland, Vermont, we are writing to you in support of the proposal to locate a new refugee resettlement site in Rutland.
Our mission is to engage with our community, create social and professional networking opportunities, and work to build a Rutland area that attracts and retains young professionals. Since we were established in 2013, we’ve engaged with hundreds of individuals in the Rutland area. We have received consistent support from and developed strong ties with the local business community. And, we are motivating other young professionals throughout the state to take more active roles in their communities.
We believe our efforts have had a significant impact in making Rutland a better place. We are proud of our work and are grateful for the support we have received from the businesses in our area, which as we so often hear, are hungry to support, recruit and cultivate younger talent.
We value VRRP’s assessment that Rutland is a safe place for refugees to rebuild their lives, and based on our experiences, we are confident in our community’s ability to welcome them. As an organization, we are here to welcome newcomers and make it easier for them to make connections and establish a life here – no matter who they are or where they come from.
The diversity and openness of the Rutland community greatly impacts our ability to attract and retain young professionals. We, and many people of our generation, find inherent value in diverse communities and crave the opportunity to gain a more robust understanding of our world.
Valuing diversity means we want the opportunity to form relationships with people of different backgrounds and experiences. Valuing diversity means remaining open and curious when our neighbors surprise us, present us with a new perspective, or challenge us to think differently. We acknowledge that we might not always do these things perfectly, but in coming together as a community, we challenge ourselves to do it more perfectly together than we could do alone.
We believe the proposed refugee resettlement supports Rutland Young Professionals’ concern for fostering a diverse community, as has been evidenced by the successful resettlement in Winooski, VT. Since the resettlement, Winooski has seen an increase in the 25 – 35 year old demographic, and Winooski city officials noted that Winooski’s diversity is one of the biggest factors making it attractive to this demographic – a demographic that we also hope to attract to reverse the aging and declining of Rutland’s and Vermont’s population. Winooski’s experience suggests Rutland could experience a similar boost in population thanks in part to refugee resettlement. Winooski city officials commented that refugees in their community have found jobs, purchased homes, and started businesses, and we look forward to seeing the same trend here in Rutland.
We think that one of Rutland Young Professionals’ greatest strengths is our ability to welcome new young professionals to our community, and plan to offer our organizations’ resources to new arrivals, just as we do every day.
Please accept this letter as an indication not just of our strong support of the resettlement in Rutland, but our faith in our community to welcome and grow from the opportunity.
Rutland Young Professionals Board of Directors