Why We Need Immigrants as Much as Immigrants Need Us, with Sasha Chanoff and Chickadee Chef John DaSilva

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Where would we be without immigrants? RefugePoint founder and executive director Sasha Chanoff and Chickadee owner and executive chef John daSilva join host Billy Shore in Boston to discuss the hardships faced by immigrants and refugees and the promise and strength they bring to their new homes. “Refugees do revitalize cities – like Lewiston, Maine, or St. Louis, Missouri – that were on the decline and Somalis and Bosnians moved in and started businesses,” Chanoff explains. “Immigrant workers make up 30% of the workforce [at Chickadee]. If you take away 30% of the workforce in a workforce-depleted industry, the effects would be devastating,” observes daSilva.

Chanoff shares a harrowing tale about rescuing hundreds of massacre survivors in war-torn Congo early in his career. “I was struck viscerally by this idea that if I could play a very small role in helping somebody who had gone through a lot of trauma and terror, and often lost so much in their lives… that was the most important thing I could do,” he says. “These people working for me are just doing the best that they can, working as hard as they can. How could we turn our backs on them? We need them,” concludes daSilva.

Join in this engaging conversation between two guests who share their personal perspectives on how immigrants and refugees make us all stronger.

Resources and Mentions:

John daSilva

John daSilva

Chef and Owner
Chef and owner of Chickadee in Boston. A lifelong New England resident, he graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in 2004. daSilva trained in various kitchens including The Boarding House on Nantucket Island and Barbara Lynch’s flagship No. 9 Park before opening Spoke Wine Bar in 2013. During his time at Spoke, John wasnamed one of Zagat’s “30 Under 30” for Boston and earbed he title “Rising Star Chef” from StarChefs.com. Most recently John was named “Best Chef, Up & Coming” from Boston Magazine.
Sasha Chanoff

Sasha Chanoff

Founder and Executive Director
Founder and Executive Director of RefugePoint, an organization that advances lasting solutions for at-risk refugees and supports the humanitarian community to do the same. Prior to launching RefugePoint in 2005, Chanoff consulted with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya and worked with the International Organization for Migration throughout Africa, identifying refugees in danger and working on refugee protection issues with the US, Canadian, Australian, and other governments. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a master’s in humanitarian assistance, from the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Friedman School of Nutrition, Science, and Policy. Chanoffhas received social entrepreneur fellowships from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Ashoka, and Echoing Green. He is a recipient of the Charles Bronfman Humanitarian Prize, the Harvard Center for Public Leadership GleitsmanInternational Activist Award, and is a White House Champion of Change. He co-authored From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Chickadee

A New England-born and Mediterranean-inspired restaurant situated in the heart of Boston’s Innovation and Design Building. Named after the state bird of Massachusetts, Chickadee is a collaboration between long-time friends and industry veterans, Chef John daSilva and Ted Kilpatrick. They offer a seasonal menu highlighting ingredients from local farms, markets, and producers.

RefugePoint

Founded in 2005 to identify refugees who fall through the cracks of humanitarian aid. Initially providing life-saving care to HIV+ refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, the agency grew quickly, adding a range of services to support those with the most urgent needs. Over time, RefugePoint developed a unique, full-service response model for assisting urban refugees and facilitating their self-reliance.Simultaneously, the organization saw that tens of thousands of resettlement slots were going unused annually and built a unique resettlement program that now partners with the UN Refugee Agency in 28 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. RefugePoint has directly assisted over 54,000 refugees to access resettlement and has worked in partnership with others to guarantee access for thousands more.

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