A JZ Analytics Report released in April 2013 titled Six Continents, One Hometown: Public Opinion on Refugee Resettlement in Utica emphasized the importance of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR),
"The impact of this institution cannot be overestimated. Above all it is the source of the metaphorical sign that says Welcome to Utica."
Since being founded in 1981 MVRCR has resettled more than 15,000 individuals to the City of Utica. These populations have included Vietnamese, Russian, Bosnian, Somali Bantu, Burmese, and Nepali, just to name a few of the larger and more recent arrivals (Visit the populations page for a full arrivals sheet). The success of the Refugee Center, and Utica as a welcoming community, has received national and international attention. Most recently Utica, and the work of the Refugee Center, was featured in a New York Times Article, A New Life for Refugees and the City They Adopted, by Susan Hartman,
"This might seem like an unexpected corner of America to plant roots for Somali Bantus who have fled persecution, but in fact they are part of a remarkable story: the evolution of Utica into a city of refugees. A large concentration of immigrants who have come here seeking sanctuary, including Vietnamese, Bosnian and Burmese, have transformed this once-fading industrial town." - A New Life for Refugees, and the City They Adopted
Our biggest "claim to fame" was in 2005 when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees featured Utica in their magazine Refugees, dedicating the entire edition to the "Town that Loves Refugees". The City and MVRCR have also been featured in Readers Digest, multiple NPR programs, and on a program aired only in France! In a 2013 visit to Hamilton College, former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledge the Refugee Center in her remarks, stating,
"But at the core our real strength continues to be the democratic values that reside in the American character. And we don't just stand up for our own rights and freedoms, at our best we stand up for the rights of all people everywhere. We see it here in the Mohawk Valley, which has become a welcome refugee haven for people from around the world seeking peace, and freedom, and opportunity. Many of them came from Burma, nearly 3,000 since 1997. And I thank the Mohawk Valley, and particularly Utica for opening up your hearts and homes. That is really who we are." - Hillary Clinton At Hamilton College
MVRCR has evolved during our 35 year history, expanding to provide services not just to refugees, but also to immigrant communities such as the growing Dominican population and the larger community with linguistic and cultural support. Our Refugee Center is unique amongst refugee resettlement agencies because we have a "one-stop shop" model that allows newcomers to access many services in one location. A study by the Onondaga Citizens League in 2012 recommended, "creation of a Refugee Resource Center, a single location for the refugees to go for information, services, meetings, medical appointments and classes and where resettlement case managers could have office space." This recommendation came from studying our work in Utica!
As demonstrated by our history and public record, the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is a leader! We assist refugees, immigrants, and those with limited English language proficiency throughout the integration process and help them achieve independence and self-sufficiency by developing products and services that enable us to build community with many cultures. We are dedicated to integrity, diversity, community, compassion, and knowledge. We invite you to join us by learning more about our products and services, making a donation, or by becoming a volunteer.