Peace and blessings,

The refugee ministry here at St. Peter’s has been in effect for approximately 15 years.
Begun by Deacon Tom Tripp, it originated as a deanery-wide collaboration of
Episcopal churches in the Eastern Deanery. Our collaboration was aimed at helping
both the Vive LaCasa refugee shelter, and Journey’s End Refugee Services (JERS)-
both located in the city of Buffalo.

Working with Journey’s End, we have helped resettle several refugee families coming
into the Buffalo region by participating in a JERS Project called “Home Again”. We
have done several Home Again move-ins by ourselves, and more with collaborations
with other Episcopal churches, and with some from different denominations. We
were able to collect furniture, food and household items for their apartments;
welcome the families at the airport; provide welcoming meals; and in some cases,
mentor the family for 3 months and beyond (Friendship Partnership).

In the Fall of 2016, the Episcopal Diocese of WNY awarded us a grant for $20,000 to
maintain this ministry in an ecumenical manner and expand it if possible. We
continued this Friendship Partnership with Journey’s End, until the refugee flow
virtually ended. We also developed a video of our work, entitled “From Strangers to
Neighbors
”, which served as a primer for developing future refugee projects. Each
parish in WNY or Northwestern Pennsylvania received a copy.

In 2019, Deacon Joanne and myself decided to switch gears and serve a refugee
family already here in WNY. We began the L.E.A.F. program, which stood for
Learning/Education/Activities/and Fun. With help from JERS and the Buffalo Schools,
we identified a particular African family with five school-age children, and built a
mentoring program around them. We transported them to our church and back
home once a week, read stories to improve their English; gave them one-on-one
mentoring sessions around their schoolwork; and offered a different “fun” activity
each week. We maintained contact with their schools to measure progress and seek
improvement of our activities. We also provide school supplies, food, clothing, and
other items on a yearly basis.

Sadly, we had to suspend the L.E.A.F. program in March of 2020, with the many
Covid-19 restrictions in place. However, we do maintain contact with the family and
continue supporting them through the pandemic.

With the recent influx of Afghan evacuees coming to the WNY area, we donated
monies from our refugee account to support Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees, a
consortium of local refugee agencies. We also have begun a project called “Welcome
Boxes
” , in which we collect donations of items, by room designations, and deliver to
Journey’s End for one of those apartments. We just completed our first delivery in
late January(2022), and hope to continue as needed.

Deacon Joanne Coury Frake (retired)       

Deacon Thomas Tripp