ROCHESTER, N.Y. — New York state will be welcoming more than 1,000 Afghan refugees, with 200 coming to Rochester.
Enter the Catholic Family Center of Rochester, and you’ll find rooms filled with donations.
“It’s tremendous to see the outpouring of support from the community in an effort to really meet the need coming over the next several months,” volunteer Larry Farnand said.
Farnand is one of the many volunteers who helps organize and bag donations for refugees with nothing else.
“Just in seeing the look on their face, the smile on their face and the gleam in their eye, I can tell they’re very pleased to receive the support we’ve been giving them,” Farnand said.
He has been with the CFC for two years now, and this year was awarded Volunteer of the Year.
“It was a very humbling experience to be recognized for something I enjoy doing, and something so rewarding for me,” Farnand said.
Like many of the other volunteers, he’s been working with the CFC to prepare for refugees coming to Rochester from Afghanistan. The CFC is in charge of resettling and finding homes for all the refugees, and helping them enroll in school, find employment and acclimate to America.
“You see not only their resilience, but their desire to have a life just like you have,” Director of Refugee and Immigration Services Lisa Hoyt said. “My grandparents migrated here from Italy, so l have this intrinsic feeling that it’s the right thing to do.”
That work also includes getting homes ready, with furniture, appliances and dishware.
“You see the look in their eye and the surprise in terms of having a fully furnished apartment, it’s very gratifying to see that,” Hoyt said.
Which is why he encourages anyone to pitch in, be it with time or money.
“In addition to the satisfaction of helping the poor, we also get a tremendous amount of appreciation from the people we work with,” Farnand said. “And that feels so good.”