New Americans left homeless are from Somalia, Burma & Dem. Rep. of Congo

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New information about the families left homeless by the massive apartment fire on Belmont Avenue in Springfield.

On Monday we told you what the Red Cross is doing to help. Jewish Family Services in Springfield is also playing a central role.

The charred gaping holes where windows used to be were covered with plywood on Tuesday as crews worked to get 12 apartments ready to reopen. But for the dozens of people who can’t return, Jewish Family Services is stepping up to help.

“To help them with some cultural understanding of all of the highly structured processes that need to happen because it has not bee their experience of having a fire marshal and a state police investigation,” explained Deirdre Griffin, the Director of New American Program at Jewish Family Services.

Jewish Family Services resettled 143 refugees last fiscal year and has resettled 43 this year. Many of the families left homeless by this fire were from Somalia, but there was also a family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and another from Burma.

“These are all people who have been here for a while so they really are new Americans, they are no longer refugees,” said Maxine Stein, the President & CEO of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts. “They have been living here and I believe the majority of the clients that were ours are working. So they are currently employed.”

Stein told 22News they resettled five of the affected families when they originally came to America years ago and although they are no longer clients, they say helping in this time of crisis is the moral thing to do.If you’re looking to donate,

Checks can be made out to JFSWM (Jewish Family Service of Western MA) with FIRE in the memo line and sent directly to JFSWM at 15 Lenox St., Springfield, MA 01108. Or, they can be sent to Brian Bedore at TD Bank 561, Sumner Ave, Springfield MA 01108.

Household items (brand new only) can be dropped off at JFSWM at 15 Lenox St., Springfield, MA 01108. Families are in need of bed pillows, twin sheets, queen sheets, bath and hand towels, twin comforters, queen comforters, pots and pans, paper towels and bathroom items including toilet paper, shampoo, bar soap, toothpaste and brushes.

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