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International Rescue Committee celebrates local refugees

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jun 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-23 14:10:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee's International Rescue Committee and partners will host a refugee celebration Saturday following Tuesday's observance of world refugee day.

"Right now, our refugee numbers stand about 800 people have been served and are currently living in the Greater Tallahassee Community," IRC Community engagement coordinator says proudly. Tallahassee's International Rescue committee helps people fleeing various forms of persecution from their home counties connect with resources like affordable housing, transportation, job readiness and more. "We serve people from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, and various Latin American Countries."

Arely Toledo is one of their clients, who's now been living in Tallahassee for just three months. Speaking through her interpreter, she says, "Given the language barrier, and the fact that [we] are not familiar with anything in Tallahassee or anyone here, the help of the case workers, the interpreters, and the staff at the IRC has been immensely helpful."

Leo Makarov is a case worker at IRC and also a Ukranian refugee. "We moved here because of the war," he said. Through counseling the 12 families in his care, he says many refugees need large household items as they resettle. "When a family moves to a new place a new house, they don't have like much furniture pieces, so sometimes they need items like tables, fridges, stuff like that."

Costigan says, as the IRC prepares for this weekend's refugee celebrations, they've been well supported with help from religious organizations and even local colleges. "We have lots of furniture right now in terms of tables and chairs, and then," she says while walking into a storage room, "this is a very small percentage of the donations we've already received that we're storing here at Echo."

But, with 800 clients already in their care and more on the way, any help is appreciated.

"We're always looking for newborn clothes for those new expecting mothers, professional business wear so our clients can look really well when they're applying for their job interviews."

If you'd like to join the celebrations, they have plenty in store for the entire family.

"Our volunteers are providing furniture, rummage sale items, clothes, food that our clients can take, and we're also going to have bouncy castles, face painting, therapy animals, and things like that for our children to enjoy and celebrate themselves," Costigan said.

You can drop off your donations and join their celebration Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Echo center on E. Bradford Rd. in Tallahassee.