Why immigrants are essential

At Crotched Mountain, they make up half of 1,100 employees

It is not breaking news to say the issue of immigration in general and refugees in particular is top of mind for many people today. For us, and especially for the people we serve, their professionalism and compassion is a daily headline.

Approximately half of our nearly 1,100-strong staff is made up of immigrants. And nearly a third of that number comprises refugees and those seeking asylum. On the weekends, three out of every four staff members working at Crotched Mountain have come to us from a different country.

So when I saw that we cannot execute our mission without them, I literally mean it.

We hire nearly 90 immigrants a year. We have worked to ensure Crotched Mountain is known as a destination workplace for new Americans, where professional development is available and upward mobility is the norm.

Khem Basnet, who came to America from Nepal in 2006, serves as our international human resources recruiter. Indicative of the sort of professional growth we value so much at Crotched Mountain, Khem began his tenure with us as direct care staff, then moved on as a manager in charge of three programs, and eventually earned his new role as our recruiter tasked exclusively with seeking out and recruiting new international employees.

His and others’ efforts have given us a strong reputation among local refugee agencies like the International Institute and the Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire. Which is critical — we rely on those that come through their doors, ready for a new beginning.

Every week Khem is pounding the pavement in Manchester and Concord, meeting new immigrants and refugees, telling them about the opportunities at Crotched Mountain, and most importantly, setting them up for success.

For us, success for our international staff is more than just showing up on time to punch in for the workday. It is a daunting experience arriving to a new country and we are sympathetic to that.

We ensure that the basics are covered first – visas locked down, driver’s licenses secured and paperwork in order. Then it’s a deeper dive, as we bring our new staff up to speed on all of the regulations, privacy and reporting procedures and best practices in client services.

The students who attend Crotched Mountain School possess unique disabilities that elude the capabilities of most any other school you can name. Be it complex medical needs or severe cognitive delay or traumatic brain injury, the challenges our students face require intense, empathetic one-on-one supports. As such, the North Star for everyone at Crotched Mountain is to offer the very best safety and supports; anything less is untenable.

Travel our school hallways, perhaps walking from our gymnasium, past the adaptive bowling lanes, all the way to our science classroom, and chances are good you will see one of our international staff members standing side-by-side with one of our students. They might be helping them communicate through their iPad or working on a painting in art class or shooting baskets or perhaps just offering soothing counsel during a tough morning.

They are more than employees. Like all of us here at Crotched Mountain, who share the simple value that all people matter, they are family.  

Michael Coughlin is president and CEO of Crotched Mountain Foundation.

Categories: Opinion