Written by Kevin Heffernan
Crafter Hours on October 25will benefit all of Jericho Road’s Service Sectors. Let’s take a look at each:
Jericho Road’s Events and Marketing Coordinator Mary Schaefer has provided some additional information on the program. Whether you attend their Crafter Hours program, or make donations to Jericho Road in the future, here’s a program your money benefits:
Vive is a 119-bed shelter that provides safe refuge, meals, and legal support to asylum seekers. Incoming numbers of asylum seekers ebb and flow based on world events – political and social unrest, genocide, war, famine, gang violence, and environmental stresses. In the US, they also fluctuate based on the federal government’s policies. During the late winter, spring, and summer of 2017 (after the election of Donald Trump and especially after the first executive orders on immigration), Vive was overwhelmed by a sharp increase in individuals and families arriving to claim asylum in the US or, much more frequently, wanting to make a refugee claim in Canada. The influx was so large that Vive had to house residents off-site in local churches and homes for months.
While numbers of asylum seekers may ebb and flow over time, they never cease. Because of Buffalo’s proximity to the Canadian border, asylum seekers frequently make for our city in the hopes that they will be able to find a safe haven in Canada. Enterprising journalists have branded this route the “new underground railroad” – and in some ways it is similar – but Vive doesn’t hide asylum seekers (because they are legally permitted to claim asylum and don’t need to be hidden), nor does it attempt to conceal its location.
Vive is a 24-7 shelter for men, women, and children who are seeking asylum in the US or attempting to make a refugee claim in Canada. The shelter is set up dormitory-style, with shared dorm rooms and bunk beds. Group meals are served in the cafeteria and able adults participate on chore teams to assist with cooking and cleaning. Our legal team helps residents navigate the complex legal process of claiming asylum and/or requesting an appointment at the Canadian border. For residents attempting to claim US asylum, the process can take years. Our team can help long-term residents apply for a work permit (once they become eligible) and find affordable housing, while continuing to assist them through the legal process.
In the last fiscal year, Vive registered over 1,800 clients – 1,282 of whom made a refugee claim at the Canadian border. These clients spoke 32 languages and were born in 69 different countries. The shelter also provided over 5,400 meals. Vive is one of very few shelters of its kind in the entirety of the United States. For US asylum seekers especially, Vive encourages and helps them to become as self-sufficient as possible – helping them apply for work permits, connecting them to a work readiness program with 716 Ministries, providing them with healthcare, assisting them in finding affordable housing, and continuing to work on their legal cases. For those who win their US asylum cases, these services put them on track to be successful for the rest of their lives in America.