Buffalo organization helping displaced Ukrainians
Local and national organizations are coming together to help ease the transition for incoming Ukrainian refugees.
Buffalo is one of six initial locations currently taking in Ukrainians fleeing their country as the war against invading Russian forces continues.
In April, the Biden Administration announced 100,000 Ukrainians would be entering the United States through the Uniting for Ukraine program, which allows those with a fiscal sponsor to enter the country under “humanitarian parole” status.
Jewish Federation Services C.E.O. Dr. Molly Carr said she is tasked with developing sponsorship-based programs to support those arriving Ukrainians.
“The program allows J.F.S. to do technical support, case management and direct assistance with sponsorship teams of five to 10 people to support Ukrainians, to help financially, socially and volunteer based mentoring,” she said. “The program also allows Jewish Family Services to expand our refugee and immigrant center for healing to provide psycho support specialist or counseling support specifically for Ukrainians who have experienced trauma from the war.”
Carr said it says a lot about the City of Buffalo that it was chosen as one of the six initial locations for refugees to relocate and there is an opportunity to help make someone’s life better as they get acclimated to life in Western New York.
“The sponsorship process for immigration does require people to have a minimum income threshold,” she said. “It's 100% of the poverty guidelines for their family size and the people they're sponsoring. So the reality is for some people, it might not be possible for them to sponsor an individual. However, they can join sponsorship circles or teams that are working to support refugees as they arrive here.”
Ukrainian American Civic Center President Yuri Hreshchyshyn said welcoming newcomers to Western New York won’t be a problem in the City of Good Neighbors. However he added the city should not develop issue fatigue as it pertains to the war against Russia.
“The bigger problem is that this conflict has not ended and we need to keep an eye on the ongoing war,” he said. “Ukrainians are fighting against what was the second largest power in the world, militarily, and they've taken it on by choice. Maybe they didn't have a choice but by choice they are fighting the battle on the ground and they're doing that for all of us.”