Give Back NH: BRING IT! After school
Brendan McCafferty (Director): My name is Brendan McCafferty. I am originally from Manchester. I grew up a street away. I am the Hillside Middle School Principal where the program is located. And I started the program 16 years ago with Hector Urrea. The acronym stood for Bringing refugees, immigrants and neighbors smoothly into tomorrow.
So, in other words, connecting newcomers to locals, which will always be your new version of what Manchester is. So we started with football, dancing, and 16 years later it led to many other things.
Doug LeClerc (Director of Operations): My name is Douglas LeClerc. I’m the COO of BRING IT. Currently, many of the students we work with come from East Africa. Thus countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. So we have a lot of students who speak Swahili, a lot of students who speak Kinyarwanda. This year, we received many new Portuguese-speaking Brazilian students.
Communication can sometimes be a problem, but luckily for us, we were able to hire diverse staff members who were actually program participants for us. So we have staff who speak, community, speak Kinyarwanda, speak Swahili, speak French. So it’s very nice for a lot of our new students to come here and get help in their native language.
Simfora Bangasimbo (Deputy Director): My name is Simfora Bangasimbo and I was born in Tanzania and in a refugee camp. But I am Congolese… my parents are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’ve been at BRING IT since 2009. I started as a student, and now I’m working here.
As a newcomer, I didn’t know English so I needed a lot of help at first. But [BRINGT IT!] was also a place to hang out with friends where we can learn the American system together, play football together, dance together and feel like we are not alone.
I was graduated [college] in 2020. I joined a master’s program in Switzerland, so I will go in September, focusing mainly on human rights and humanitarianism. This program… it didn’t save me, but it helped me a lot. I think I would have been very lost without it.
Doug Leclerc: For anyone not aware of our program, I think this is a great opportunity for anyone to contact us and learn more about us or even stop by to visit us.
We are also always looking for donations, not necessarily always financial, but we have had people who have provided football boots for children, school supplies for children, some people who have stepped up to provide meals and meals sponsored for children each evening.
When I was growing up, I had no idea that our city was so diverse and that we had such great programs going on. So I think it would be great for anyone to stop and see what’s happening in our city, and learn how we’re trying to provide as much support as possible to families who really need it.
How to get involved: