The International Institute of Erie Gives Hope

“The International Institute of Erie really helps people, you should give them a call”, said Pat Cappabianca a retired teacher, administrator and former city councilman.

For those of you that don’t know the International Institute of Erie, or the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, or if that’s too much of a mouthful you can call it USCRI for short. The USCRI have for over 100 years have “advanced the rights and lives of those who have lost or left their homes.”

What they mean by that is imagine for a second if you would your sleeping in your bed your safe place the one place that everyone should feel secure and instead of waking up to your alarm clock everyday you wake up to the sound of gun shots. They keep getting closer and closer with every passing day. One day it gets too close and you have to go and you come over to America, no money, no family, nowhere to live. USCRI gives these people many things but above all they give these people hope.

60 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced meaning uprooted. Less than 0.1 percent of those 60 million people will get the chance to start a new life. That’s where USCRI comes in.

USCRI finds refugees housing, they help them get accustomed to their new surroundings, and help them find work so that these families can one day fend for themselves.

The Director for the International Institute for Erie currently is Dylanna Jackson. Here’s her explaining what Erie’s branch is all about.

Edith Terry Bremer started the first International Institute in New York City in 1911, she modeled it off of Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago. The headquarters now resides in Washington D.C.. There are a total 63 agencies all around the world with one in our very own Erie, PA.

Unlike the Hull House however the International Institute remains to keep it’s doors open and continue to serve people in need.

These families that come over are scared 60-70% of these people settle down in urban areas. These people are in constant fear that they will get deported and sent back to the hell they have just escaped. If these people have families many parents are not able to support them because they don’t have a right to a decent job many taking jobs that pay very little.

The USCRI provides families with education (many children can’t register for school) and job training.

This isn’t just grown people that are looking for a better life. Children every day flee to the United States, the average distance each of these children travel to make it here is a jaw-dropping 1,400 miles. To put that in perspective that’s about a little above Massachusetts to all the way down to Miami, Florida. These children are seeking refuge from gang violence, organized crime, child abuse, sex trafficking, domestic violence, poverty, and arguably the saddest of them all, the death of their parents. These children are mostly coming from impoverished countries in Central America. Children from Mexico all the way down to Honduras are trying to come to America with often times literally nothing but the clothes on their backs.

These children are doing anything they can to get somewhere safe they are willing to climb aboard moving trains often times losing arms, legs, and sometimes their life.

As you would guess many don’t make it. With giant targets on their backs these kids get kidnapped or trafficked, some getting lucky by just getting robbed. Once they get to the boarder if they don’t get told ‘turn around’ or get arrested.

The USCRI finds them a caretaker and their case managers work with these children to make sure their basic needs are met. For example USCRI provides things like, medical care, food and clothing, education, and if their parents aren’t dead family reunification. They provide these kids a life that they so desperately need.

This organization changes people’s lives every single day they give people hope. If you want to help them out with a donation I’m sure they would be very grateful. But I bet they would be even more grateful if you got involved and worked with some of these people hands on.

These people are good people. They need help and USCRI does something that can actually make a difference. Put yourself in one of those kids’ shoes for a second. What did you feel? I can tell you one emotion you didn’t feel: hope and that’s what this organization provides.

“Their always busy over there, their there to help,” said Pat. They have been doing just that for over a century and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.


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