Refugees’ chance at American Dream in Lancaster

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Protests against the government in Syria in 2011 soon turned into a war.  The fighting and rise of ISIS forced millions of people from home.  Thousands will resettle in the United States and dozens will come to Central Pennsylvania.

A Lancaster group successfully advocated their city as a welcoming place for Syrian refugees.

Halley Gradus is a volunteer with the Church World Service of Lancaster.  She's proud to share the accomplishments of people she helps.

"There is so much that is going on in their lives abroad and trying to get here and accomplish the American dream that I want to help in whatever way I can in the process for them," says Gradus.

Soon, Gradus will assist about 60 Syrian refugees who are fleeing their home for a new chance at life.

"I continue to feel humbled by the refugees, they are strong, resilient and very driven people," says Gradus.

Stephanie Gromek is the Community Resource Coordinator of CWS.  She says the refugees will come to Lancaster through a contract with the US Government.  The group has federal grants to help with the resettlement.  And there may even be a personal tie to the area.

"The resettlement agencies try to reunite families or friends the best they can," says Gromek.

Upon arrival in the U.S., CWS members greet them at the airport so their new journey can begin.

Gromek says, "We help with all their medical appointments, health screenings, children in school, parents into ESL, all the case management happens for 3 months."

After 5 years, the refugees can apply for full citizenship.  It's a move volunteers like Gradus applaud.

Gradus says, "They don't have anyone here, they have CWS and agencies, but they don't have friends and I think they need friends and people to support them."

Through donations from the community, CWS members are able to place the refugees in furnished apartments.

If you're interested in helping out click here:  CWS donation page


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