State Senator Welcomes Refugees to Syracuse, Gathers Coats to Fend Off Winter Chill

January 23, 2014

When you speak with refugees about their initial experiences resettling in the United States, one of the first things they often describe is the difficult adjustment to a new climate. For newcomers from Africa, the Middle East, and other warm climates, the winter in northern American cities can be a brutal shock.

Many have never seen snow, experienced freezing wind chills, or even owned a heavy winter coat. In Syracuse, New York, refugees resettled by EMM’s local affiliate partners at Interfaith Works of Central New York’s Center for New Americans recently received a little help in adjusting to chilly conditions from one of their elected leaders.

New York State Senator David Valesky held a coat and blanket drive for three weeks at his offices in Syracuse to benefit the clients at Interfaith who are new to the frigid upstate winters. In late November, he visited the Interfaith offices to deliver the collected items in person.

“I’ve always been very impressed by Interfaith Works and the New Americans program. I’ve tried to be involved in the past, and this year I thought that the coat drive might be a nice way to help out,” said Valesky. “It is really remarkable how the refugee community has been supported here.”

Valesky presented a few of the collected donations directly to a family from Cuba who recently arrived in Syracuse, and he met with Jai Subidi, a Bhutanese employee of Interfaith Works (the two are pictured together at right) who arrived as a refugee in 2008 and received his first coat from a generous donor.

As the cold weather persists in the months ahead and new refugees continue to arrive from warm weather climates, EMM’s affiliates will be searching for coats and blankets for clients. Please click here to connect with the affiliate in your community to donate warm clothes, bedding, and outerwear.