From Worcester volunteers gearing up for arrival of refugees. They’re being helped by local churches, Ascentria Social Services (formerly Lutheran Social Services), and the state’s Office of Refugees and Immigrants.
You can well imagine that these folks are going to need a lot of help:
That’s an issue well understood at St. George Orthodox Cathedral on Anna Street where the Rev. Milad Selim rallies the community to donate basic food and supplies to recent refugees from the Middle East.
“They have food stamps, and that’s great, but how are we helping them with other things?” said Rev. Selim, whose own family fled their home in Iraq when IS advanced. “That includes teaching them the language, teaching them to drive, teaching them the laws of the land … there are clusters of families literally being dumped in these areas. It’s fine that they are, but what are we doing to help them stand on their feet quickly?”
Ms. Brennan agreed that many refugees – particularly those coming from war-torn regions and who have seen or experienced trauma – need further services than the organization can typically provide.
To help address this, the organization has received a $170,722 grant to work with local social service and health providers to develop a new, collaborative program for helping refugees resettle in Worcester.
“Right now through a combination of funding services, we’re able to provide intense case management for a few months but after that, clients are kind of on their own with the hope that if they need help, they’ll come back or have support,” Ms. Brennan said. She identified increased opportunities for English classes and mental-health services as two major areas to improve.
We’re talking about a few hundred people (275 next year), compared to a total displaced population of a stunning 12 million (within Syria and now outside). There has been movement on the issue – however slow and halting. Gov. Baker has entertained the idea of accepting refugees, with federal help, and Sens. Lindsay Graham and Pat Leahy are pushing for $1 billion in resettlement aid for refugees, showing that there are still pockets of decency in the US Senate.
Here’s hoping that we can provide a place of peace and mercy for these souls.