The International Institute of Buffalo, Catholic Charities of Buffalo, Journey’s End Refugee Services, and Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County invite the public to join a Virtual Run / Walk to recognize World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 20, 2020. The event organized by The Center, Utica, will raise awareness and funds to support these local agencies and refugee resettlement agencies across New York State. These agencies provide direct services to thousands of our most vulnerable, as well as build community, support resiliency and honor the innate dignity of all human beings with their work every day. Partner agencies include:
The Center, Utica
Catholic Charities of Buffalo
Catholic Family Center, Rochester
International Institute of Buffalo
Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County
Journey’s End Refugee Services, Buffalo
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Albany
Observed every year, World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to honor the courage of refugees and recognize their resilience in building new lives in communities throughout the United States. Although the event cannot be held in person this year, a virtual walk/run will be hosted that will allow people to participate from across New York State, as well as anywhere in the world! A Walk in Their Words will provide participants the opportunity to listen to refugee and immigrant audio stories during the virtual walk/run and hear the personal experiences and journeys of individuals from many different regions of the world. All proceeds will support the partner agencies, who have all been impacted by recent funding cuts, as well as by the current COVID-19 health crisis.
“We are so excited to join this collaborative effort to share the stories of New Yorkers from all across the globe and to be able to bring the stories of Buffalo’s own immigrants and refugees to listeners and supporters across the state,” says Eva Hassett, Executive Director of the International Institute of Buffalo.
The International Institute is grateful to Mary Owusu for sharing her family’s story for this event. Ms. Owusu and her family emigrated from Cape Coast, Ghana, to Buffalo in 1992. Participants will hear Ms. Owusu’s reflections on the power of compassion and the unique bonds that are forged in the City of Good Neighbors. Ms. Owusu reflects: “People often talk about diversity, equity, inclusion and acceptance, but I think compassion is where it all starts. Be willing to look at a fellow human being and say, ‘How are you’ and mean it. It starts there. The compassion of others made all the difference for us when we needed it, and in the end, my siblings and I, all 5 of us, were able to stay in America."
Ms, Owusu added, "I'm paying it forward because when we needed help, others showed me the way, so why can't I be a helper too?"
Karen Andolina Scott, Executive Director of Journey’s End Refugee Services, echoes this sentiment: "Coming together to support our refugee community, even if it is virtually, is what we do best in the City of Good Neighbors. 'A Walk in Their Words' is above all a community-wide sharing event, with refugees sharing their powerful stories and participants showing their gratitude by giving back to a community that has enriched all of our lives in WNY in so many different ways."
"Catholic Charities of Buffalo is proud to stand with The Center and our local resettlement agencies for this important event. We hope through this collective effort, Western New Yorkers can get to better know our refugee and immigrant brothers and sisters, and can draw inspiration from their stories. We hope you'll join us on June 20," says Deacon Steve Schumer, President and CEO of Catholic Charities.
“Amidst the global pandemic, we have seen how interdependent we are, and that it is our duty to protect one another. Now more than ever, we must honor our unique tradition as a nation with a deep history of welcoming and protecting refugees by sharing their stories and celebrating their strength” said Molly S. Short Carr, Ph.D., CEO of Jewish Family Services of Buffalo and Erie County.
Local resettlement agencies have partnered with Olmsted Parks Conservancy to provide participants with recommended walking routes through many of the Conversancy’s beautiful and historic parks.
Partner agencies encourage walk participants to take advantage of Buffalo’s beautiful park system while maintaining safe and proper social distancing measures. “In a time when healthy and safety precautions require us to maintain physical distance from others in our community, our hope is that this event - this sharing of stories - can help build bonds of connection and community with our neighbors from all over the world” concludes Ms. Hassett.
For a $30 minimum donation, individuals can participate from anywhere!
Go to www.awalkintheirwords.org for more information and to register for the event.
A Walk in Their Words is one of several World Refugee Day celebrations being held this year, please visit World Refugee Day WNY at www.wrdwny.org for information about other local virtual events.