The coalition, based out of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, is working with Buffalo-based Journey’s End Refugee Resettlement agency, which is now operating a satellite office in donated space at St. Luke’s.
Reverend Luke Fodor said the coalition is working with two groups of people, “Both asylum seeking folks and refugees. There’s a distinction between the two groupings of people. Those who are asylum seeking have entered the country and asked for asylum based upon some exigency in their home countries. Legally crossed and presented themselves to the border guards and then been released under their own recognizance. That’s the legal process in the United States. And then they are then allowed to go where they want.”
Fodor said the asylum seeking families are from Colombia with the refugee families that came from Congo being in Jamestown for about a month.
He said asylum seekers in the United States cannot get a work permit for at least a year, “….or a limited resource of public assistance and that even is a difficult process to navigate. And then the refugees are able to come into the country because of the process they were brought into. They’re able to get public assistance and then also to get right into the workforce as long as they have the language skills and right placement.”
Fodor said while at least one refugee from the Congo has found employment, the asylum seekers from Colombia are dependent on help from the community to meet needs like food access, rent payments, and more.
Jamestown Public Market Director Linnea Haskin said the people from Colombia are offering food on Sundays at St. Luke’s Church from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., “But then they also hope to open a stand at the Farmer’s Market where they will be offering empanadas, arepas, and all of their delicious salsas. And so, for a donation of a minimum of $10, but whatever you can offer, you then get a delicious meal. And that money goes through the fund at St. Luke’s that we then utilize to purchase things that the family needs.”
Financial donations can be made to the New Neighbors Coalition fund set up at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation by visiting https://www.crcfonline.org/. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is also accepting donations through a paypal donation page at: http://bit.ly/3IH1Lxj
For more information, follow https://www.facebook.com/NewNeighborsCoalition/