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Warren Refugee Discussion Moves Forward

WARREN, Pa. — A steering committee is working to pull together feedback and determine how the Warren County community can best support Ukrainian refugee resettlement.

That’s the next step coming out of a community forum held at First Lutheran Church last week.

Piper VanOrd, who has traveled to Poland to provide direct relief, and Father Rick Tomasone, who facilitated a family moving here, both shared their stories. The intent of the meeting, then, was for those interested in getting involved in resettlement to come together.

“These stories are not just about good things that have been done for people far away,” said Tom Pierotti, a member of the committee. “These stories will remind us that we are not helpless.

Pierotti, VanOrd, Tomasone, County Commissioner Ben Kafferlin and First Lutheran Pastor Jeff Ewing make up the committee.

“There are things we can do…. We can make a difference.”

What remains unclear is just what people can do.

And that’s not just an ambiguous question here.

VanOrd explained that Poland removed restrictions to allow refugees to come in but that there’s no real “blueprint” for people to follow once they cross the border.

That’s true locally, and Kafferlin said it’s not yet known all the ways that people can help. He said the reaction to the idea of welcoming refugees “for the most part… (I’ve) been exceedingly pleased with the response,” calling it “very positive, very welcoming.

“All of us can help in some way,” he stressed, encouraging those in attendance to ask how their organizations can help “families like this. It is you and I… that can love them (and) actually help.”

“We’re going to over the next few weeks consolidate the feedback we have,” Pierotti said, to “be in a position to be able to make a report that will reflect the spirit of the community and what we think is reasonable.”

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Tomasone said. “Hopefully, tonight gives you a little bit of courage. We are a wonderful nurturing community across the board, generous to a fault. We have an opportunity to make a difference.”

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