Rock Island, Ill. (Nov. 18, 2022) – Royal Neighbors of America, a fraternal benefit society based in Rock Island, Ill. has presented Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, Founder and Director, Syrian Community Network (SCN), Chicago, with a Nation of Neighbors℠ empowerment award and $10,000 grant. The award and grant presented to Ms. Akhras is one of ten Royal Neighbors will present nationwide this fall.
A membership organization with 250,000 members nationwide, Royal Neighbors of America offers life insurance and annuity products to its members and is driven by its mission of supporting women and serving communities. Nation of Neighbors is Royal Neighbors’ signature women’s empowerment program and recognizes and supports women who work to empower women and girls through a nonprofit, business, or program.
Born out of the Syrian refugee crisis, SCN was founded with the purpose of easing the transition of newly arrived refugees as they acclimate to life in the United States. SCN is a community for new arrivals that is welcoming and combats the misinformation, politicization, racism, and xenophobia that directly impacted refugee resettlement and, specifically, Syrian refugees.
At just 10 years old, Suzanne Akhras immigrated to the United States from Syria. As the Syrian crises unfolded in 2011, Ms. Akhras knew she wanted to do something support her community and her people, so she began contemplating how she could support them. When the State Department announced in 2013 that they would be resettling Syrian refugees to the United States, Ms. Ahkras began planning, organizing, and strategizing to welcome new friends and neighbors. In 2014, Ms. Akhras called upon her community to meet in her home, and that is when Syrian Community Network was born.
Since its inception, SCN has grown to offer three core programs: case management, education, and immigration legal services.
SCN will be using the Nation of Neighbors grant to fund their Education Case Management (ECM) program which bridges the gap between families and schools. “SCN staff work predominantly with mothers in this program,” said Ms. Akhras “In Syrian culture, mothers are typically the main adult responsible for their children’s well-being.”
“Imagine leaving everything you know behind and having navigate motherhood with a language barrier and in an entirely new culture,” said Royal Neighbors of America Director of Philanthropy Amy Jones. “Sixty percent of Syrian Community Network newcomers are women and girls utilizing services that enable them to begin the new, safe life they’d hoped for when they left home. Syrian Community Network is fostering a sense of belonging that can truly transform the futures of refugees and their families.”
“I love the ECM program because it empowers parents to learn about the American education system and be able to understand the needs of their kids to effectively advocate for them,” added Ms. Akhras. “When mothers, especially, feel welcomed and heard by their children’s teachers, they feel much more at ease in volunteering for their classrooms or connecting through other mechanisms.”
“With Ms. Akhras leadership, Syrian Community Network is creating what we like to call the ‘ripple effect’ of women’s empowerment, and that is in beautiful alignment with the mission of Royal Neighbors of America,” added Ms. Jones.
Royal Neighbors of America is a unique provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. Royal Neighbors was founded in 1895 as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children. In 2020, Royal Neighbors was upgraded to “A Excellent” (3rd highest out of 13) by the AM Best Company for overall financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations to certificate holders. The rating was affirmed as of November 30, 2021. Royal Neighbors is a five-time Great Place to Work-Certified™ organization. For more information about Royal Neighbors of America, go to royalneighbors.org.
Marie Young, Manager, Communications
Marie.Young@royalneighbors.org | (309) 732-8280