Buffalo, NY - You can find the largest refugee shelter in the United States on Buffalo's East Side. In an old school building on Wyoming Street, Vive, Inc. offers food, clothing, shelter and legal assistance to refugees seeking asylum.
Executive Director Angela Jordan-Mosely explains, "They're coming in tired and a little confused. Sometimes, they think that once they get here they automatically have status. They don't understand the process and how long it may or may not take for them."
It can take as long as two years for those requesting legal status in the United States. Some will end up moving to Canada. In the meantime, Vive and Buffalo are their home away from home. Everything that you have in your home, they need a hundred times over at Vive. Good neighbors often help along this road to freedom.
65% of the refugee population at Vive are women with children. When a nursery was needed, a couple donated the funds. A church group recently brought summer outfits. The Yale Alumni Association helped to establish a garden as well. Jordan-Mosely says no matter the language you can see how thankful the refugees are for the kindness. "Our volunteers are the lifeline of Vive. If they did not come through for us, we could not stay in existence."
Vive does not receive federal dollars because the refugee they are helping do not have status yet. They are working toward that day when they get word that they can stay and live with the freedoms to worship or have their own opinion, freedoms that we take for granted.
Jordan-Mosely describes that moment. "When I see a mother that has come in and is broken and has lost everything and has been here for a year and a half and still trying to pursue freedom and finally she gets that letter in the mail, and that she has status in the United States. She's running up and down the halls and praising her God for what he has brought her through. It's just a good day. It's a good day for every refugee that walks through these doors."
There are countless ways that you can help. There's a need for simple items like
white rice and beans, diapers for the babies or mulch to help make their new playground safer. Donations are always needed to help renovate and maintain the building. You can learn more about Vive, Inc. and how you can help online.