For the second year IIB staff and volunteers teamed up with Parkside Lutheran Church to provide a Thanksgiving-style dinner for 50 newly arrived Americans and survivor clients. The guests hail from Afghanistan, Burma, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ecuador, Iraq, Myanmar, Syria, and Venezuela. For many, it was their first-ever Thanksgiving meal.
“We serve foreign-born people who escaped persecution, whether religious, political, ethnic, racial, or gender-based. Our immigrant survivor clients endured domestic violence or human trafficking and are starting new lives too,” says Jennifer Rizzo-Choi, executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo. “We hope this celebration will help mark the start of a new chapter and a chance to share a meal with new friends for what is, arguably, the most American of holidays.
The second annual event offered all the traditional holiday favorites that make up a traditional American Thanksgiving, including turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, corn, and rolls with butter. Rounding out the meal were apple, pumpkin, and pecan pies. Being mindful of the religious/ dietary needs of some of the guests, meatless and halal offerings were also available. Parkside Lutheran Church congregation members donated food and their time cooking the feast.
“We are thrilled to welcome our newest neighbors. We hope this event is an opportunity to build relationships and share gratitude this holiday season,” said Rev. Jeremiah P. Smith, Pastor of Parkside Lutheran Church. “Giving thanks and loving neighbors are what we as people of faith are all about. Partnering once again with the International Institute of Buffalo for this Thanksgiving meal allows us to do both!
WKBW Channel 7 was also on hand for the celebration. You can watch their coverage by clicking here.
If you want to sponsor a refugee or immigrant family for the holidays, click here for more information.