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IIB Announces New Partnership with Fellow Regional Refugee Agencies

By June 22, 2023No Comments

Western New York Refugee Organizations Announce Formal Partnership

New collaboration will improve access to services for refugees and other immigrant communities in Western New York

The International Institute of Buffalo is part of five local refugee agencies that announced the newly formed Refugee Partnership of Western New York at a press conference on Tuesday, June 20. The Refugee Partnership of Western New York is a collaborative project envisioned by Buffalo’s five agencies that serve refugees and immigrants – Catholic Charities of Buffalo, International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Jewish Family Services of WNY, and Journey’s End Refugee Services.

The Refugee Partnership announced the tenets of a formal agreement rooted in a common belief that the community thrives when individual organizations partner to provide quality services and build sustainable systems that support, integrate, and attract refugees and immigrants.

“For over 100 years, the International Institute of Buffalo has been serving the needs of the foreign-born in Western New York,” said Jenniefer Rizzo-Choi, IIB Executive Director. “We are glad to contribute our unique programs to the overall effort and collaborate when it makes sense so that we all can effectively and efficiently serve the people who need our help.”

The organization outlined its initial goals that will impact the more than 12,000 refugees and asylum-seekers already living in Buffalo and those who will be joining the community in the future. Those goals include:

  • Improve services for refugees and immigrants
  • Increase community capacity for welcoming our newest neighbors
  • Strengthen partnerships with ethnic community-based organization and assist them in building capacity
  • Advocate for and with refugees and immigrants at the local and state government levels utilizing data-driven informatics to improve their overall quality of life

The Refugee Partnership is the logical outcome of our successful Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees BUFAE campaign in 2021. Then the five organizations pooled their resources to form to respond to the crisis and welcome 582 Afghan men, women, and children.

“Formally collaborating for the benefit of our community, and for and with the people we serve is the great advantage in establishing The Refugee Partnership,” said Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. “Catholic Charities, like our region, has been welcoming the stranger among us for many decades and we are grateful to continue and broaden that work among our peer organizations and other groups.”

“Our values support our collective efforts to welcome the stranger,” said Dr. Molly S. Carr, Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family Services of Western New York. “The Refugee Partnership represents a collaboration amongst a group of agencies with a high level of experience and expertise in refugee support services as well as each bringing services that are unique to themselves. Both our clients and the larger Western New York community benefit from this partnership and JFS is proud to be a part of the effort.”

“Western New York is unique in the United States. We are the only city of its size that has multiple agencies welcoming and assisting refugees and asylum seekers. It made logical sense for us to form The Refugee Partnership, to pool our strengths and streamline our services to better serve our newest neighbors holistically and with dignity. The Refugee Partnership is one more great reason why we are known nationwide as the ‘City of Good Neighbors.'” -Karen M. Andolina Scott, CEO of Journey’s End

“We are always looking for ways to better care for our neighbors. This formal partnership is just that. Refugees have come to our city with not much more than the clothes on their back—somehow, they have still managed to make us better. We value our proximity to such resilience and to these humans who have endured so much, only to now thrive in our neighborhoods. Although we have often worked together in the past, The Refugee Partnership will ensure that our individual areas of expertise are now used in collaboration with each other to better care for our refugee neighbors.” –Dr. Anna Ireland Mongo, CPO, Jericho Road Community Health Center

While the refugee resettlement agencies and Jericho Road have a long history of partnering on specific programs and advocacy issues, the Afghan evacuee crisis was the catalyst for formalizing and expanding our collective work in serving refugees and other immigrant communities in Western New York.

Click here to get to the Refugee Partnership website.