By Kiet Do

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Santa Clara County has devoted nearly $1 million dollars in new funding to assist Afghan refugees resettling in the South Bay.

A unanimous vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, increased funding for annual service provider contracts with International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley (JFSSV), from $185,000 to $250,000, for each organization.

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The vote also authorized $750,000 in one-time funding to cover housing, food, employment, and transportation for the refugees coming to Santa Clara County.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors learned IRC had already resettled 40 Afghan refugees, and JFSSV had processed 25, so far. About 300 refugees will be arriving in the South Bay over the next 12 months.

Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who co-authored the proposal with Supervisor Otto Lee, called the effort a “moral obligation”.

“This is the core of what we do for each other, as human beings. We are literally saving lives and helping people begin anew here. And I wanted to do what I could to help make that easy for the folks that are doing the hard work of resettlement,” said Ellenberg.

At My Breakfast House, a popular eatery in San Carlos, owner Kakey Chang said images of the refugees’ escape from Kabul were “heartbreaking.” Chang has openings for host and table busser, and is encouraging Afghans to apply.

“If they need a job, and if I have a job opening, they’re welcome to apply for a job here, work here,” said Chang.

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Chang, who immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan as a child, stressed the importance of making the Afghans refugees feel welcome.

“You always try to help out. Somebody fall down? Your try to give them a hand. Help them get up. It’s the same idea. Why help? It’s human nature. We all have to help,” said Chang.

Shef, a San Francisco based startup, is also offering assistance through direct donations and also through the platform. The company is an online homemade food marketplace where customers can order dishes from local neighborhood chefs.

Shef is offering refugees $3,500 stipends to spend on supplies, tools, and marketing, and waiving all fees on the platform. What’s more, local established users are also delivering Afghan dishes to recently resettled refugees in the Bay Area.

Last week, “Shef Laila” delivered 100 meals to the Muslim Community Center in Pleasanton, with the message ‘Dear fellow Afghans, peace and blessings be upon you. We welcome you to the United States. We hope that you like and enjoy this food.’

“I’m just hopeful that other companies and other business leaders will also think about what they might be able to do. It might be something entirely different, but hopefully we’re all in a unique position to do something to help, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” said Alvin Salehi, co-founder and co-CEO of Shef.

Salehi, the son of Iranian immigrants, said the Afghan refugee crisis “hits home”.

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“Many of them have come to the US under incredibly difficult and devastating circumstances. My hope is that we treat them with kindness. My hope is that we actually try hard to show them the America that they’ve always dreamt about,” said Salehi.