JSA is always proud to give back to the community, but this is especially true during the holiday season. As weCommunity Center all know from recent news, massive amounts of refugees are fleeing from civil unrest and descending on the United States and European countries. It’s up to us to be welcoming, understanding what they are going through and not judging them for the sins of their countries. This is all too real in Buffalo, NY where our refugee population has increased drastically on the west side.

One local organization, Help Everyone Achieve Livelihood (H.E.A.L.) International Inc., is stepping up to the plate and helping refugees assimilate to our country and culture. H.E.A.L. International is a non-profit charitable organization managed by former refugees to help new arrivals in the country adapt to the challenges that arise from leaving a region of conflict and violence, and arriving to a new life. H.E.A.L. offers cultural assistance for refugees who need access to healthcare, housing, legal services and education. The organization provides educational programs for adults and youth to help with learning English, navigating social services, and conflict resolution. To house all of these initiatives H.E.A.L. is building a much-needed community center.

On December 12 I joined a variety of volunteers to continue gutting the future community center. The Bob and Ibuilding is in need of complete remodel and the process began by tearing down all the decrepit wood to its frame, then moving the scraps for removal. This is a physically demanding task that will take a collective effort and many hours of man-power. Once this project is finished, the building will serve as a youth center, center for conflict resolution, women empowerment, a center for economic development and act as a positive guide for refugees in Buffalo.

“Help and empower refugees and the poor to help themselves.” If you are interested in donating to this cause please click here!