Tennessee Resettlement Aid

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Our Mission

Tennessee Resettlement Aid seeks to fill the gaps in the current refugee resettlement system with direct aid to our Afghan allies and their families. We provide culturally appropriate food, clothes, and home-goods to new arrivals, as well as facilitate access to other critical services through partner organizations.

Our Impact

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AFGHANS RECEIVING
FOOD WEEKLY
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WIFI INSTALLATIONS
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BICYCLES PROVIDED
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FAMILIES GIVEN HOME
GOODS
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WASHERS AND DRYERS
HOOKED UP

How You Can Help

Monetary Donations + Physical Donations + Volunteering

Learn More

The recent evacuation of Afghan refugees to the U.S. was an unprecedented effort in our nation’s history. To date, more than 700 Afghan refugees have arrived in Nashville and more are expected in the coming months. TRA was formed with the specific goal of providing emergency aid to our Afghan allies but as resettlement is a process, we have evolved to support their changing needs.

As our Afghan allies find their footing, TRA will provide the same warm welcome and emergency relief to the hundreds of Ukrainian refugees who will arrive in 2022 and 2023. Escaping war and unimaginable trauma, our Ukrainian friends will face challenges in Nashville and they will require our support and encouragement along the way. Upon arrival, refugees receive a hot meal, a set of personal hygiene supplies, temporary housing, and a small monetary stipend to cover food, clothes, and any other needs. This initial allowance is not adequate to sustain families long-term, nor is it intended to. Instead, the resettlement apparatus was designed to quickly connect refugees to social services, employment and other resources to help them become self-sufficient. TRA seeks to fill these gaps with immediate aid to families in the form of food, home-goods and transportation in a way that supports the achievement of self-sufficiency.

Afghan C5 Loading Refugees are tenacious, resourceful people who have endured unimaginable difficulties and heartbreak. The majority of Afghan allies in Nashville worked closely with the American military and associated companies in Afghanistan. They put their own lives and their families at risk on behalf of democracy and US citizens serving overseas and fled their homes in fear of Taliban retaliation. Our new Ukrainian neighbors are fleeing a war in which they had no part or choice. They most certainly deserve the adequate resources to be successful as they begin their new lives in the United States. TRA pledges to stand with Afghan and Ukrainian refugees and face these unique challenges together. With your help, we can give back a fraction of what they have given us and show them that everyone is welcome in Nashville.

Crisis Points:

01.

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INSUFFICIENT HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES

Families receive a one-time provision of basic cleaning products and home-goods. It is not nearly enough to set up a home where they can thrive. TRA delivers cookware, dishware, regular cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and furniture to each household free of charge.

02.

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Food Insecurity

Families struggle to access food. Many families have neither the monetary means, transportation, language skills or knowledge of local resources to secure food in the first few months upon arrival. TRA, along with the Branch of Nashville delivers food boxes to dozens of households each week.

03.

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Limited Employment Options


Due to lack of English language skills, many professional and skilled workers are trapped in menial labor positions. TRA matches individuals with local employers and aims to provide free, on-site English classes to encourage growth and development.

Newly arriving refugees are in need of many more areas of support. We are partnering with other organizations to assist in providing these services while we deliver the most critical survival support listed above.

Other areas of service:

TRA’s Afghan Volunteer Team

About Us

Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin.

It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.

– Frederick Buechner

Our Story

The inspiration for TRA began at the Nashville airport in the fall of 2021, an appropriate place for a journey to begin. Katie Finn was working for a local resettlement agency, waiting to welcome one of the first Afghan arrivals. He emerged from the gate alone, clutching a plastic bag of documents and nothing else. He had no luggage with him and no bags on the carousel. He had no coat to keep him warm in the cool afternoon and only sandals on his feet. Katie couldn’t forget about him or shake her worry that he and other arriving Afghans wouldn’t have what they needed to stay warm. Soon after, she put the word out to her neighbors and friends—that Afghan allies are arriving totally unprepared for a Tennessee winter. The response was immediate and overwhelming; Katie’s living-room overflowed with donations and she was able to give new sets of warm clothes and jackets not only to that young man, but also to many other Afghan refugees as well.

That call for support made its way to Julie Pine and led her to spend a Saturday in Katie’s living room, organizing donated clothes. As a mother of two children herself, Julie was especially touched by the large number of families with small children who needed significant help to start a new life in the United States. Julie and Katie decided to combine their particular backgrounds to address the immediate needs of hundreds of people. Julie’s program management skills and Katie’s humanitarian expertise allowed them to scale the operation and widen their impact. During this time, Katie met Saleem Tahiri in the Afghan community as he visited families and offered them his support. Katie and Saleem quickly realized that he was working towards the same goals and brought to the table the unique understanding of the culture, language and first-hand experience of the resettlement process. Katie, Saleem and Julie decided that it was time to make it official and Tennessee Resettlement Aid (TRA), a nonprofit, was born. From these first days of individuals taking action to help their new friends and neighbors stay warm, TRA has grown to have a full leadership team, an extensive network of volunteers and a robust and diverse offering of aid, advocacy and data analysis programs.

Katie Finn

Katie Finn

Executive Director

Katie Finn has a background in rural poverty alleviation and holds an M.S. in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh. While in Europe, she volunteered for two months in Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing humanitarian aid on the front lines of the European Refugee Crisis. She was working in refugee resettlement when Afghan allies began to arrive in Nashville. As director and co-founder of TRA, she envisions a community resource that serves new Americans through all phases of their resettlement journey to ensure that they do not only survive but thrive in their new homes.

Julie Pine

Co-Founder 

Julie Pine has spent the last 20 years working in Healthcare IT in the Nashville area. Julie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Davidson College and is a Certified Advanced Scrum Master. After years in corporate America, Julie was ready for a new life chapter. It wasn't long before a chance Facebook post calling for volunteers to help Katie Finn sort clothing for newly arrived Afghan's changed the trajectory of Julie's life. Her heart was deeply moved by the gracious Afghans she met and the incredible challenges they face as they settle in our area. As Operational Lead and co-founder of TRA, she now has the honor of working daily to welcome and support her Afghan friends.

Abdul Qadeer Hilal

Communications & Community Outreach Coordinator

Abdul Qadeer Hilal holds a law degree from Afghanistan and has significant experience leading women's rights  projects for USAID. With Taliban in power, his work put his family in peril and after numerous threats, he chose to leave Afghanistan with his family. Once in Nashville, they were welcomed and supported by TRA. He is proud to contribute his professional skills to further TRA’s mission of welcome.

Ryan Kenigsberg

Arrivals & Integration

Ryan Kenigsberg came to Nashville from his hometown of Greeley Colorado in 2014 to attend Vanderbilt University. After dabbling in different technology, innovation, and part-time work, he has shifted to a role helping the church better welcome and love the Muslim community. Ryan finds the most enjoyable part of his time is spent connecting and building relationships with the refugee community. Currently, he leads the ongoing component of the food program and some men's ESL courses.

Emily Hollowell

Emily Hollowell

Physical Donations & Facilities

Emily moved to Nashville in 2014 to attend law school, she currently works for the state. After seeing a post on Facebook by Katie asking for clothing donations, Emily offered her help after seeing all of the donations Katie was receiving. She began assisting with the intake of donations, and shortly after met an Afghan family who had just arrived in Nashville a few days earlier. She saw their apartment was completely free of furniture and even though they had little to survive on, they were so appreciative and welcoming. The saying "it takes a village" never rang more true and that the gaps in the system would need to be filled fast. She now helps by coordinating the intake of physical donations and making sure the families get everything they need to turn their houses into homes.

Ashley Schwartz

Community Health Outreach

Ashley Schwartz is a Michigan native who moved to Nashville to pursue her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies. As a healthcare worker, Ashley has a passion for loving and serving others. She was introduced to Afghan families after delivering food one night and knew this cause was something she wanted to be involved in. She values relationships as well as meeting physical needs and is looking forward to continuing to welcome and support the Afghan community. Specifically, she will be organizing efforts to ensure every family has the technology required to thrive in their new homes as well as communicate with friends and family who remain in Afghanistan.

Amanda Fisher

Volunteer Coordinator

Amanda moved from Spokane, WA to Nashville, TN in 2021. While in the Pacific Northwest, she worked for The Salvation Army, serving low-income families, and foster children. She also has experience in child outreach programs in Germany.  After moving to Nashville, Amanda was introduced to TRA through friends, and began to foster relationships with refugee families. Her desire to build relationships and help the Afghans feel welcomed into a new country only began to grow. She believes TRA is embodying a culture and environment that allows our refugee friends to succeed here in the states.

Bryan Hall

Lead Volunteer

Bryan is a native Tennessean, musician, woodworker, and photographer. As a volunteer lead with TRA, Bryan spends time determining and filling the needs of our Afghan refugees. Bryan has been instrumental in assembling and delivering bicycles to help fill transportation gaps for the families. Bryan also enjoys volunteer work with Green Street and Hands on Nashville. Bryan is married to Laura Hall and they are empty nesters who enjoy spending time with their family and friends.

Laura Hall

Lead Volunteer

Laura is a native Tennessean, wife, mom, LaLa (grandma) and has served in the healthcare field for over 30 years. Laura's primary goal has always been to make a difference in the lives of others. Upon hearing of the arrival of Afghan refugees in Nashville, Laura felt led to get involved in this effort to directly serve and support this vulnerable group of people. As a volunteer lead with TRA, Laura spends time with the Afghan families to determine their specific needs and deliver home goods, hygiene items and clothing. Laura is married to Bryan Hall and they enjoy volunteer work with Hands on Nashville as well as TRA.

Board of Directors

Randy Lowry

Chairman

Randy Lowry is an academic administrator who most recently served as President of Lipscomb University from 2005 to 2021. He has taught law at multiple institutions and is well known for his expertise in mediation.

Dan Hogan

Dan Hogan has been a longtime healthcare entrepreneur and Founder of both Doctor’s Associates Home Health and later the home health and hospice analytics firm Medalogix. Since his departure from healthcare he has co-founded and currently operates a spirits industry investment firm called Barrel Stock Trading Company.

Matthew Scanlan

Matthew Scanlan is the Senior Director of Government and Community Affairs at Vanderbilt Medical Center where he serves as the primary institutional contact with the executive and legislative branch in the State of Tennessee. Prior to joining VUMC, Matt was a partner in the law firm of Gullett, Sanford, Robinson, and Martin where his practice focused on advising businesses on regulatory and government relations issues.   

Sally R. Smallwood

Sally R. Smallwood is a longtime advocate for education, empowerment and access in healthcare for vulnerable populations. She has been instrumental in building several nonprofits. 

W. J. Sutherland

W. J. (Josh) Sutherland is a manufacturing executive with 35+ years' experience providing automotive, industrial & railroad products. His family has lived in middle Tennessee since 1990 and have long supported various community and charitable organizations.

David Braam

David Braam is the External Affairs Director for Project Return. As an attorney with government relations and legal expertise specializing in nonprofit, health care, publicly held, financial and government organizations, David has significant experience as an advocate and manager of legislative projects and complex legal issues.

Rick Nickels

Rick Nickels is a partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. He practices at the intersection of business, tax and estate planning as well as advises private companies and high net worth families on an array of tax, governance and planning matters.

Barbara Sutton

As a partner at Dempsey Vantrease & Follis PLLC, Barbara Sutton, works with individuals and businesses on contract negotiations, sales and mergers, tax preparation and long-term planning. She has expertise in small businesses and start ups.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about TRA or how you can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Send all inquiries to:

info@tennesseeresettlementaid.org

Mailing Address:

2355 Alteras Drive
Nashville, TN 37211