Informational Meeting Held on Poughkeepsie Refugee Resettlement
Erol Kekic was a refugee about 21 years ago. He says, when he got the opportunity to resettle in America, it changed his life.
"I will always be grateful to the opportunity that I have been given," he said.
Now Kekic is the Immigration and Refugee Program Executive Director for the faith-based organization Church World Service, also known as CWS. The organization is bringing a refugee resettlement office to Poughkeepsie next year.
Kekic says there are currently about 66 million people in the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
"We were looking to start with one family, starting to explore a pilot to see how well the one family would do," he said. "We were planning and hoping that we would be able to reach a magic number of about 30 families on the first year."
CWS already resettles refugees in Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. People we spoke with had mixed reviews about having a refugee resettlement office in Poughkeepsie.
"I think it's great if our community can reach out and be supportive of people who need help. It could be us," said Rosendale's Reta Sorge.
"They're not taking care of the people that are already here that are homeless," said Betsy Martins of Hopewell Junction. "They need to be taken care of. People have been in the homeless shelter for years and nothing's been done for them."
Kekic says that CWS has worked with community partners in Poughkeepsie for 40 years to address issues of poverty, including homelessness.
"So it's not necessarily true that those people aren't being helped," Kekic said. "It's just that, if we choose to help somebody in that way, there's an avenue for that, but I think we can and have to do both."