The refugee resettlement organization Vive Inc. is contacting past and present supporters with an urgent plea for help. If financial support is not forthcoming, the message says, outlook is bleak. “We are facing the harsh reality of closing our doors,” the message states.
An email from Vive Executive Director Angela Jordan-Mosely this week describes the situation at the nonprofit as “desperate.” Vive celebrated 30 years of operation in March, but recent years have seen funding cuts by the county and federal government. The losses are compounded by delays in legal proceedings to get the immigrants Vive serves permanently settled.
“What used to take days now takes months or even years, leaving hundreds of refugees in limbo,” Jorden-Mosely writes.
The result is a significant increase in the length of time individuals and families stay with Vive at its Wyoming Avenue location and a need for the organization to reconsider how it can achieve its mission of helping international refugees build new lives.
Former Amherst Council Member Shelly Schratz, a Vive volunteer, said that the uncertain status makes it hard for the refugees to contribute to their own support.
“Many of these people want to work, but there are matters of transportation and language, and they don’t have a Social Security card yet,” Schratz said. “We have a business (Bing’s restaurant), but you can’t hire someone who isn’t legal yet.”
Schratz said that, in trying to get financial support, Vive may be hampered by misunderstandings about its clients. The refugees it serves arrived in the United States legally, often having received asylum or temporary residency while they work on permanent status in this country or Canada. Most live at Vive while their cases work through the legal system.
“People may say they don’t want to pay for them with their (tax) dime, but if Vive closes, they’re going to be homeless, and they will be on everybody’s dime,” Schratz said. “And it’s going to destroy these families.”