“Team Odessa” raising funds for refugee family relocating here from Ukraine

The Neighborhood Support Team also shared an update on the success of their last initiative, helping a family of refugees from Aftghanistan.

Above: A Neighborhood Support Team (NST) is seeking community help for a new family of refugees to be hosted in Southborough. This time, immigrants are from Odessa, Ukraine. (images of non-profit group’s logo and edited image from Google maps)

Southborough volunteers are welcoming a Ukrainian family “forced to abandon their home and most of their belongings” due to area bombings. They are asking the community to support their efforts through funds and/or volunteer support.

While I share that call for help, I’m also sharing their update on the refugee family from Afghanistan that found its footing in America last year thanks to the same group. (And I’m adding a quick follow up on the more recent situation the Town faced when a group of migrant families were briefly sheltered here by the state this summer.)

In December of 2021, I shared a call for help for the family of a man who had helped who aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan. The support team was looking for financial donations and volunteers.

That effort was “a major success story for resettlement”. The family was temporarily hosted in a Southborough home, while they worked towards becoming self-sufficient residents of our region. (Scroll down for that update. And readers interested in that story may also be interested in an update/recap of the refugee families that were briefly sheltered a Southborough hotel this summer.)

Now organizers have set up another NST (Neighborhood Support Team) to support a family looking to establish a new life in our country after fleeing the warzone in Ukraine. They are raising funds for “Team Odessa” with a goal of $15,000. Donations made through WelcomeNST are tax-deductible.

In addition, a message calls for people willing to join the team and pitch in their time. (They need help registering family members for schools/initial health insurance, and searching for houses to rent.) Anyone willing to help can reach out to Matthew Probst by emailing woodland@sd.probst.org.

Here are excerpts from their call to help the family expected to arrive this fall:

Oleksiy and Nataliya (names changed to protect privacy) and their two young children were all born and raised in Odessa Ukraine. They had a home with a view of the Black Sea. Oleksiy had a shipping business that was dependent on the port and Nataliya worked in IT. When the war started in February of 2022, bombs from Russian warships could be heard and felt all around them. The port was closed and a warehouse housing Oleksiy’s shipments was destroyed. The family, especially the kids, suffered significant trauma given the intense bombings and was forced to abandon their home and most of their belongings. They escaped this heavy bombing to a neighboring country.

As refugees they’ve struggled to find decent jobs and still fear for their safety given their proximity to the conflict. The family has expressed interested in relocating to the US and specifically Massachusetts given our highly ranked education and safety. . .

To save costs, a member of our team will be hosting this family in their home in Southborough long enough for Oleksiy and Nataliya to find employment and an affordable place to live in the area.

We need your help and are committed to ensuring that your donation is used to directly welcome and support this family as they restart their lives.

Afghanistan refugee family update

Now as promised, here are more details on the family relocated from Southeastern Afghanistan. [Note: That family required more hands on volunteers as drivers and for translation support than this family is expected to.]

Below is an update based on the details shared (without names due to privacy concerns):

In 2022, the family were hosted in Southborough at no cost, to give them time to adjust, find jobs, start saving, etc. After 10 months, they were able to relocate to Worcester with some savings (and no debt.) They are now mostly* self-sufficient thanks to the community support they received.

The father, who came knowing zero English, was able to find solid employment in early 2022 and has been working very hard ever since then. The team was able to provide (and revitalize) a used vehicle and help him pass exams to get his commercial drivers license. He is now a employed full time as a long haul freight truck driver going coast to coast.

The mother gave birth to a newborn son. All of the family members have received great medical and dental care.

With help, the mother was able to was able to successfully pass the MA written driving test and the road exam.

The seven year old girl successfully finished Kindergarten and 1st grade. She is now enjoying 2nd grade and is learning English like a sponge. During her time in Southborough, she attended Finn School, which was extremely welcoming and accommodating. (She still periodically asks about the very kind teacher she had there.)

The five year old son was able to attend pre-school and is now participating in full day Kindergarten.

Officials debrief and thank volunteers for help with homeless immigrants

At last week’s Select Board meeting, the board and members of the CERT Team discussed the sudden situation they had found themselves in when they learned that a group of migrant families were being sheltered at the Red Roof Inn in August.

Although I previously covered some of the details, their recap included new ones about the volunteer efforts by residents and officials, and the emotional situation helping families who have been through so much to get here. You can watch that discussion here.

In the meeting, officials acknowledged the need to learn from the situation and better prepare for the possibility of the state using the hotel as a shelter again in the future.

*Some volunteers have continued to provide minor support described as including sorting email and helping them with dentist support.

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