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2022 Recipient

Sienna Nazarian

Beverly Hills, CA | 17

2022 Award Recipient

As the child and grandchild of refugees, Sienna has sought to honor the sacrifices made by those who came before her by assisting refugees in her community. After seeking ways to get involved, Sienna realized that there were few opportunities for young people to volunteer to directly support refugees, so she created The Refugee Empowerment Project to provide refugees with the resources they need to prosper while also creating a space for teens to serve the community. The organization’s holistic approach to the needs of refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers is demonstrated through its English mentorship program, community orientations, mental health initiative, advocacy council, and fundraising drive. The goal of the project is to change the way refugees are perceived and treated by eliminating roadblocks in their resettlement process, bridging the disconnect between refugees and non-refugee teens, and to destigmatize mental health care within the refugee community.

The Refugee Empowerment Project

Inspired by her own family’s history of fleeing persecution simply because they were Jewish, Sienna co-founded The Refugee Empowerment Project to break down the roadblocks that exist for refugees during their resettlement process by offering them the resources they need to thrive. Sienna recognized the impact of her organization the day an Afghani girl said, after she attended a community orientation, that it was “her best day in America.” Since its inception, The Refugee Empowerment Project has recruited more than 130 volunteers to assist over 1,000 refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers through direct service, including hand-delivering boxes of essential items to newcomers’ homes.