The City of Portland’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) is honored to announce the inaugural cohort of the Natural Helpers program. Forty-five (45) community leaders from 18 different countries of origin applied to serve as helpers. Fifteen finalists were selected to serve, representing 11 countries of origin, from Angola to Russia. OEO launched the Natural Helpers Leadership Program, a national best practice, to connect community members to resources and opportunities in order to foster a greater sense of belonging in all aspects of life in Portland.
“Our first round of natural helpers will help connect new arrivals to resources such as finding a doctor, enrolling children in school, learning about ethnic food stores, childcare resources, job opportunities, legal services, transportation, housing, and more,” said Julia Trujillo Luengo, OEO Director. “They will draw on their own experiences and deep connections within the community, serving as a resource that will allow us to continue fostering a sense of inclusion in all aspects of city life.”
A hearty congratulations to the Natural Helpers inaugural cohort. They include:
Zehra Abukar, Israa Enan, Zeinab Ibrahim, Mireille Kabongo, Aymen Korika, Steeve Maboya Mbemba, José Alino Macosso Mavungo, Jerry R Mopembe, Gaethan Ndayongeje, Gnoleba Simon Obrou, Nadine Pembele, Axels Samuntu, Olesya Shkut, Jenny Van West, and Magalie Yangala.
The program kicks off on February 11, 2020 in partnership with the University of Southern Maine. Natural Helpers will receive two full days of leadership training. On the final day of training, participants will learn in detail about the resources available around the city.