I spent the day watching hard working people solve problems for refugees who were overwhelmed by issues of paperwork, transportation systems, immunization records, green cards, etc . . . that they simply could not deal with without the help of a translator. In fact, some of their issues would have been hard to solve for an American-born English-speaking citizen!
Anna’s own words on why she founded Hope:
“I co-founded Hope Refugee Services in 2008. After several years working in refugee resettlement, I realized that a huge gap in services existed and this frustrated me. For refugees arriving in Buffalo, the majority of services ended after six months, and for many this was simply not enough time to adapt to life. Literacy is required for life in America more than most people realize. The ability to fill a simple form is needed to get medical care, maintain food stamps, apply for a job, or even rent an apartment. Many refugees can’t speak English let alone read it within that time period. For others, they want to go to college, complete a GED, or buy a house. It bothered me that people were falling through the cracks. It was unacceptable to me that people came here to start a new life and got caught up in the cycle of poverty, especially when it could be addressed or avoided.
Hope Refugee Services opened its doors to provide services to refugees for whom services were otherwise unavailable. Our intention was to provide a continuum of service to our clients. We are the only post-resettlement agency in Buffalo. Our cornerstone program is the Hope Refugee Drop In Center, which is open to clients three days a week. It is not traditional case management. A client comes in, identifies their own problem and we help them find a solution to that problem. Every day is a surprise and we do anything from referrals, scheduling appointments, and filling out forms. We also started an afterschool program for middle schoolers, a home ownership program, an adult education program, a sewing project, and an urban gardening initiative. All of our programs were designed in dialogue with refugee communities, to make sure they addressed each need as effectively as possible
I chose the name Hope, because I wanted to see hope restored to our clients. I wanted to bring hope to our wider community. I wanted the refugee community to feel that they had a part in their own destiny’s, rather than riding along in a system that was inaccessible.
In 2009, we merged with Jericho Road Ministries, strengthening our programs and infrastructure. This also helped provide sustainability. JRM had several refugee projects as well, including a pregnancy mentoring program, a financial literacy program, and a program working with toddlers for school readiness.
Jericho Road Ministries was named for the parable of the Good Samaritan, running on the Biblical principle of helping others in their time of need. Located on the West side of Buffalo, we currently have three locations. If you are interested in volunteering, you can call 716-348-3000 and ask for Joelle. IF you would like to send a donation, the address is Jericho Road Ministries 184 Barton St Buffalo, NY 14213″