BUFFALO, N.Y. — It's national 'Welcoming Week' across the country and in Buffalo, on Tuesday a ceremony was held to recognize the importance of welcoming immigrants and refugees to the City of Good Neighbors.
From the time when Poles and other eastern Europeans settled on the east side in the 1920s, to the Irish in the old First Ward years prior, Buffalo has traditionally been a landing spot for immigrants.
During the ceremony held in Niagara Square members of a small crowd sang the Ukrainian national anthem, emblematic of the latest wave of those seeking the American dream in Western New York.
"I see your hopes dreams and struggles. I know the way you feel about being in a place so foreign. For I have felt this way too," said Karina Krantz who came from Ukraine to the United States as a child with her family after a Chornobyl nuclear disaster.
"A lot of people were getting sick and I was sick when I was very young," she recalled, explaining her family also came "for a chance at a better."
Years later, 27 to be exact, she now has a husband, a son, and her own business, and participates in activities to help other refugees.
Also among those on hand was Oleksandr Olyiinyk, who arrived in Buffalo just three days ago, along with his wife and their 9-year-old daughter.
They too came from Ukraine, because of the ongoing war with Russia.
"We had a rocket attack near our house and after this, we decided to go to the United States," Mrs.Olyiink explained.
They are staying in Lancaster with Oleksandr's distant cousin, who is married to Wasyl Puhacz.
"The first thing they are trying to do is to find work," said Puhacz. "They want to support themselves."
According to Puhacz, Mr. Olyiink was a sales manager for a major distributor of alcoholic spirits in Ukraine.
"Obviously he's not going to be able to find that kind of work here because of the language barrier, so he's going to look for a truck driving job," he said.