UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Early last week, Governor Hochul announced $2 million in state funding to help Afghan evacuees resettle in New York State. The Center here in Utica is receiving some of these evacuees, and Hochul’s funding is helping to fill gaps in services.

“These dollars are going to allow us to hire more case managers, culturally and linguistically appropriate case managers we’ve done that already and we every thankful for this funding because its necessary,” said Shelly Callahan, Executive Director of The Center.

The organization already holds a contract with The New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program, and the funding will be dispersed through this. So far, the non-profit has received 50 arrivals, and there could be a total of 150 or more. Callahan says that the process of welcoming Afghan evacuees is different than what they are used to, in many cases they get don’t get much notice. 

“Sometimes just a day or two, we had one or two walk in cases. Typically we have weeks to find housing that is not the case here. The trauma and the experience that they had is very close its just a few months past and so I do think that changes things a bit,” said Callahan.

The resettlement staff is all former refugees, which creates understanding and appreciation for what evacuees are going through. Callahan tells us that the best way the community can help is by lending a hand to someone if you see them struggling.

“If you see folks out and about that maybe speak with an accent or seem to be struggling a little bit with how things work maybe take the time to smile and say hello and show them how it goes here,” said Callahan.