In Rhode Island, JRS roots foster newcomer livelihoods

07 December 2021

Antoine Nzeyimana, Operations Assistant & Manager at Beautiful Day, served with JRS Ivory Coast before resettling in Providence, Rhode Island.

Over late-night beers in 2008, a couple of friends named Keith and Geoff asked a question that millions in the humanitarian space ask every day: “How could our community do something practical to help refugees?”

The unlikely answer? Granola.

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Beautiful Day is a gourmet granola company with “a mission to help refugees, especially youth and the most vulnerable, to enter the job market and become welcomed, self-sufficient members of their communities. 

Their range of products — including six different flavors of clusters and bars — embodies a rooted sensibility: wholesome, down-to-earth, and satisfying.

“Binding all that we do together is the pride of refugees who are rebuilding their lives,” says Keith Cooper, the executive director, and founder. “From the beginning, our mission has been to help refugees.”

And one just happened to be part of the greater Jesuit Refugee Service family.

Antoine Nzeyimana was born in Burundi, where he finished high school with high hopes for more education. Then civil war broke out, forcing him to flee to Cote D’Ivoire. Determined to continue his studies, he eventually received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Human Rights Law.

Shortly after, he joined JRS Ivory Coast to work on a nutrition project to combat hunger. While there, he researched the plight of kidnapped children forced into combat. The work proved rewarding yet highly dangerous — Antoine resettled in the US in 2010.

“My mission is to help refugees have a new life,” he says. He found Beautiful Day while providing interpreting services for refugees interviewing for their jobs training program.

He then joined the company as a part-time operations assistant while working full-time at a nutritional supplement firm — Edesia — combating malnutrition in developing countries.

Today, his combined work alongside both companies threads together with multiple passions; humanitarian assistance, livelihoods programs, and experience with Jesuit Refugee Service.

To learn more about Beautiful Day and refugee jobs training programs, explore their 2020 Annual Report.