Help needed as more refugees come to Mid-Michigan

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Nearly 200 refugees will be resettling in the Lansing area by September, that's a third of the people St. Vincent Catholic Charities helps in a typical year.

With such a large group, St. Vincent says it needs volunteers to help.

"There are the largest amount of refugees and internally displaced people in the world right now," explained John Karasinski, Director of Marketing & Community Relations at St. Vincent.

The biggest need is volunteers to set up homes or donate furniture or household goods.

"Sacrifice a day to come by and help set up this furniture," Karasinski said. "Primarily what we need are kitchen tables, kitchen chairs, couches, love-seats, twin and full beds, and coffee tables to furnish these homes."

Tamara Silva knows firsthand how this kind of support makes all the difference in the world.

"You escape and leave everything behind," said Silva, who fled from her home more than 20 years ago.

"I left Cuba in a raft. We were 24 people inside that raft and it was only 21 feet long, and we were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard."

Silva and her husband relied on help from Saint Vincent to set them up with a home and jobs.

"When I arrived here I really, really appreciated the help that I had during those time of finding a job, because when we come over here we are focused on being self-sufficient," Silva added.

Silva is now doing what she can to give back, working at St. Vincent as a Case Manager.

"I said to myself 'thank God I have an opportunity.'"