ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — White House officials visited Albany Tuesday to recognize and learn best practices from about the city’s work in resettling Afghan refugees.

“We are seeing more and more regular Americans get together to sponsor families from Afghanistan, and it’s just a really exciting thing to see,” said White House Coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome, Jack Markell.

 “When we were first contacted about welcoming new refugee families, we were initially told that we would be settling about 100 people, and now we’ve resettled more than 200, and there are more coming,” explained Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

Mayor Sheehan said the strong resettlement agencies in Albany, like USCRI, are what really caught the attention of the White House.

USCRI was last year’s recipient of a $10,000 grant in the Women’s United Perfect Pitch Contest sponsored by the United Way of the Greater Capital Region.

This year, the award went to Albany organization Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus, known as RISSE. United Way of the Greater Capital Region President Peter Gannon said this proves the relevance of resettlement work right now.

“This is an issue important to people here in the Capital Region, and we want to be a welcoming and inclusive community,” Gannon said.

Cheryl Lasher, RISSE Development Director said the grant came at an excellent time to expand their after school program and assist resettled families with housing, employment and other needs.

“We are expecting a lot of growth in refugees and immigrants over the next year,” Lasher explained, “so we are building staff and building capacity, and that’s what this will help with.”