Inspiration from 50 Refugees, Hyatt and Florida


Hiram Ruiz, outgoing FL Director of Refugee Services and 50+ Hyatt Regency refugee employees in Jacksonville, FL

Haneefa, an Afghan refugee resettled by LSS, Northeast Florida, is missing from this photograph. She was serving breakfast with smiles and expert customer service for more than 400 attendees at Florida’s Refugee Consultation earlier this month.

Haneefa helped us out several times and gave Higher permission to recognize her pride in her work and English skills learned on the job at Hyatt.

Read the whole story of the training and employer partnership that went into this powerful success story provided by Patti Grogan, incoming FL Director of Refugee Services.

The Department of Children and Families contracts with local organizations to assist newly arrived refugees prepare for and find employment. In 2010, the DCF and Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida worked with the Jacksonville Hospitality Institute to develop short term hospitality training in housekeeping.

The classes ran for six weeks, including two weeks spent on-the-job. Some hotel housekeeping directors attended graduation and hired the graduates on the spot. The first training session began in February of 2010 and of 14 who started the class, 9 were employed.

In 2013 short term training continued in the hospitality field and expanded to include sewing, in which 12 of the 15 clients were placed with a swimsuit factory after completing short term training.

The Hyatt Regency in Jacksonville was one of those hotels that have supported the program by hiring refugees through the short term training program and other employment programs. At the Refugee Consultation in February 2015, the Hyatt brought onstage nearly 50 refugees who work at the hotel (the event venue).

Refugee employment services continue to expand on training opportunities that promise to increase employability and economic self-sufficiency for refugees across the state.

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