‘We are trying to be ready’ -- Mid-Michigan organizations prepare for potential refugees from Ukraine

‘We are trying to be ready’ -- Mid-Michigan organizations prepare for potential refugees from Ukraine
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 10:41 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 11:11 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Almost four million people have left Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

The Biden Administration said Thursday the United States will welcome up-to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. Local charities and organizations are getting ready to welcome them when the time comes.

Read: Ukraine reports 300 dead in airstrike on Mariupol theater

Russia invaded Ukraine more than a month ago and as air raid sirens sound as troops advance into the country, it leaves people no choice but to leave the place they call home. Refugee sites have popped up along border countries like Romania and Poland and nonprofits -- like St. Vincent Catholic Charities -- said they’re ready to give refugees a warm welcome in Lansing.

“We understand that some of them will be refugees other than other ones might be coming in other ways,” said Judi Harris. “They might have family here, so it might be a family unification situation. They might be coming with humanitarian parole. We really don’t know at this point, so we are trying to be ready and be prepared to expect almost anything.”

Harris is the director of Refugee Services at the St. Vincent Catholic Charities. She said it’s all about making them feel at home.

“We’re looking to do right now is just kind of investigating, seeing if there are Ukrainian communities here who could come forward and help us with language resources,” Harris said.

For Veronika Persamova, a community outreach coordinator, helping refugees hits close to home.

“I have double, maybe even triple identity and I lived in both countries, Ukraine and Russia. I was born in Ukraine. I spoke both languages. I still have family living in both countries. I have friends in both countries,” Persamova said. “It’s a heartbreaking period in my life, and I’m trying to be in my place hoping to help people where I am.”

She asks for support as the Ukrainians seek support on safety on solid ground.

St. Vincent is always in need of donations to help serve refugees. More information can be found on St. Vincent Catholic Charities’ official website here.

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