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First Ukrainian refugees arriving in Massachusetts will live in Westfield

A group of volunteers at Full Gospel Church in Westfield raising donations to be shipped out to Poland and transferred to Ukraine.
Submitted
/
Ascentria Care Alliance
A group of volunteers at Full Gospel Church in Westfield raising donations to be shipped out to Poland and transferred to Ukraine.

A Ukrainian family is expected to arrive in Massachusetts Wednesday night as the first refugees to enter the state after Russia's invasion of the country.

The family of six will reside in an apartment in Westfield. They are resettling through Ascentria Care Alliance, a resettlement agency with an office in West Springfield.

The family was granted refugee admission to United States prior to the war. They were scheduled to arrive in Westfield in February, but due to COVID positive tests, their travel was rescheduled and then canceled because of the outbreak of the war.

Caroline Davis, a program manager at Ascentria, said the family been based in Romania since the initial rescheduling of their travel and "have been anxiously awaiting, along with many other clients who had travel rescheduled."

They are arriving to the U.S. through a family unification process specific to eastern Europeans.

Davis said it will be harder for Ukrainians who do not have refugee status.

"At this point, the resettlement process in the United States for non Afghan refugees places a family into poverty immediately. They are they are dependent on public benefits and support," Davis said. "I think there are other ways that we could approach resettlement, and we've seen success with these supplemental fundings."

Davis said Ascentria is in-taking about 50 Ukrainian evacuees who escaped individually and do not have refugee status.

The state Legislature is finalizing a supplemental budget that would allot $10 million for agencies to support Ukrainian evacuees.

This report includes information from State House News Service.

Copyright 2022 New England Public Media. To see more, visit New England Public Media.

Nirvani Williams
Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America. Prior to this, Williams was the associate editor of Seema, an online publication dedicated to spreading more stories about women in the Indian diaspora, and has written a variety of articles, including a story about a Bangladeshi American cybersecurity expert and her tips for protecting phone data while protesting. Williams interned at WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News,” WSHU public radio, and La Voce di New York, a news site in Italian and English. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Stony Brook University, where she was the executive editor of the student-run culture magazine, The Stony Brook Press.

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