by Kaitlin Jackson
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power visited the Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Assistance campus yesterday morning for a round-table discussion with New York State Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, refugees and representatives from refugee agencies in Buffalo. The discussion was held in the Community Room of the campus, 10 Herkimer St., Buffalo.
During the round-table discussion, Power and Gillibrand listened to refugees share their experiences of coming to and living in Buffalo. Both leaders also offered their thoughts on why refugees are strengthening, not weakening, communities despite recent pushback by Americans.
“It’s easy to forget the individual stories, just the circumstances that they fled in order to get here, just how grateful they are,” Power said. “We heard from one refugee saying, ‘Pay your taxes,’ so the government has more money in order to be able to support people who are in need in this country. [We need for] that spirit to get captured, for the debate to move away from generalities to real people.”
Before leaving, Power also dropped in on an English for Speakers of Other Languages class on the Immigration and Refugee Assistance campus. During her discussion with the students, Power acknowledged the burden of settling into a new country while loved ones remained in their native countries.
“I know it must be heartbreaking,” Power said. “Everyday you turn on your phone or listen to the radio and see what’s happening back in Syria, so you know, in addition to all that you all struggle with in your new lives here, we also know you carry with you the connection with all of your family members and your friends who remain in Somalia, in Congo, in Syria, in Iraq,” she said. “That’s an additional challenge and an additional source of pain.”
An Irish immigrant at age 9, Power relayed her family’s story to the refugees and offered her best advice for succeeding in the United States.
“The number one ingredient for your success in this country is just learning the language,” Power said to the students. “You made it here. You got here. You overcame such impossible odds and circumstances so once you have the language, nobody will stop you.”
Power’s visit to the Immigration and Refugee Assistance campus came less than one week after the grand opening of the Health Care Center. The opening, held Nov. 16, signified the completion of the center as both health care partners, Mobile Primary Care and Baker Victory Dental Services, were operational at the site.
As the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York, Catholic Charities makes a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives. For five years, it attained the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings from the Council on
Accreditation for quality service and was named the winner of the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence by the Better Business Bureau Foundation of Upstate New York.
For further information about the organization and its programs and services, contact Catholic Charities at (716) 218-1400 or go to ccwny.org. You can also check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at twitter.com/ccbuffalo.