More than a dozen refugee families from war-torn areas of the globe will be coming to live in the Hudson Valley early in 2017, thanks to the efforts of a coalition of local universities and faith-based organizations.
That coalition, the Mid-Hudson Refugee Solidarity Alliance, will announce details of the new resettlement program – which it calls “the first of its kind in the Hudson Valley” – at a special meeting Sunday, November 6 from 4-6 p.m. on the second floor of the Students’ Building at Vassar College.
Most of the refugee families are likely to be from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since last April, the Alliance has been working with Church World Services. A refugee resettlement agency. At the meeting, the members of the Alliance will introduce the resettlement project, and Church World Services representative Brianne Casey will explain the process by which refugees have been chosen and how resettlement works. Volunteers will be able to sign up to be involved, and can find out what they might be able to contribute in terms of furniture and household goods.
The Alliance includes: Vassar College, SUNY New Paltz, Dutchess Community College, Mount Saint Mary College, Bard College, Vassar Temple and Christ Episcopal Church in Poughkeepsie, Masjid al-Noor Mosque in Wappingers Falls, as well as the Dutchess County Interfaith Council and the Greater Newburgh Interfaith Council.
Rabbi Leah Berkowitz of Vassar Temple is happy to be part of this endeavor: “We are committed to continuing the proud tradition of welcoming refugees and giving those who flee persecution the opportunity to build better lives here in the United States.”
Christ Episcopal Church’s Reverend Susan Fortunato echoes that sentiment. “Our church believes that it is our responsibility to lend a hand to the most vulnerable in our society. It is hard to escape the necessity of responding to the humanitarian crisis that has emerged as people flee civil war and persecution,” Fortunato explains. “We believe that our faith requires us to reach out to these people with hospitality, generosity, and faith that God will help us to provide for their needs.”
“The Mid Hudson Islamic Association is committed to assisting refugees resettle in the Hudson Valley,”says Dr. Umar Ahmad of Masjid Al-Noor Mosque in Wappingers Falls. “In the 1990s we helped resettle families who were fleeing the Bosnian war, and had reached the Hudson Valley. Some are still living here.”
A news release states that by the time refugees are cleared for the U.S. resettlement program they will have been thoroughly vetted by the State Department and Homeland Security for about two years.