When The Center, (formerly the MV Resource Center for Refugees) in Utica, soon begins receiving Afghan evacuees, they will see nearly four times the number they originally expected, which was 20.
"Our number for Afghan evacuees has gone up to 75, which is terrific, and again, our overall number for this year is 300 arrivals so we won't go beyond that," says The Center's Executive Director, Shelly Callahan.
In another new development, the evacuees will receive refugee benefits, which will help them more quickly assimilate to life in the U.S., and, get to work.
"Whether it's traffic safety or ESL classes or employment or special medical case management, all the wrap around services we have here, alot of them are predicated on status and who's eligible so now, they're eligible," says Callahan.
Callahan says some of the Utica-bound evacuees have already made contact with her resettlement staff, and that they're looking forward to becoming productive additions to the community.
"We are receiving phone calls from them from the bases they're at, asking about jobs," says Callahan. "They've had jobs, they want to earn their money, they want to join the workforce, join the community."
Callahan says she and the rest of The Center staff are excited about helping the evacuees become part of the community, and providing them with a 'soft landing' by way of an easier adjustment period made possible through the refugee-level benefits. Because they know the trauma they left behind.
"The stories that we're hearing now from the folks that we're talking to is they literally, as this unfolded, they just ran from wherever they were to the airport, in the hopes of getting out and many people didn't. It was chaos, it was violent, people died, families have been separated."