keene & keene valleY FRIENDS OF REFUGEES
Keene Valley Church Puts Concerns into Actions
On January 18, 2016, the Keene Valley Congregational Church (UCC) hosted a very well attended meeting of local churches, social action organizations, and interested community members focusing on concerns for refugees and immigrants locally, including policy issues, services for refugees settled in Vermont or elsewhere, and possible accomodation of refugee families in the North Country. Several interest sub-groups convened at the meeting, where they discussed program issues and initiatives focused more closely in three areas in the Northern Adirondack region: Lake Placid; Saranac and Tupper Lakes; and the Champlain Valley.
The consensus at this time was that refugee resettlement on this side of Lake Champlain would be unlikely due to a lack of appropriate housing, transportation, ethnic identity communities, and readily accessible employment opportunities. Milton Dudley, the church’s pastor, then secured a grant from the Adirondack Foundation for $2,000 to hire a coordinator to help area organizations develop and coordinate programs. However, after further discussion with Lake Placid residents Beatrice Shachenmayr and Rose Hyson, the grant was re-purposed to purchase low-priced digital cameras for refugee students in Berlin, Germany, for their participation in Beatrice’s Frame Your Story project that teaches these students the basics of photography so that they can photograph their new living environments and describe their experiences in resettling there.
Area volunteers here on this side of the pond then expanded the project to include students at Willsboro Central School, who are currently sharing their work with the German students on various computer platforms. More recently, the Keene UCC church community and Activist Naj Wycoff have discussed programs and initiatives addressing the current issue of undocumented immigrants fleeing through the North Country to claim refugee status in Canada. (Several national reporters have contacted the Adirondack-Friends-of Refugees.com website to find sources for articles on this issue for the Boston Globe, the Columbia School of Journalism, and Chinese media reporting in this country.)
Further information on the church and its programs is available through a Google search for Keene Valley Congregational Church, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.