NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – One year and a presidential travel ban later, two refugee families are officially on their way to resettle in western Massachusetts. Springfield Catholic Charities confirmed a Bhutanese family will resettle in Westfield Thursday, and an Iraqi family Friday in Northampton.
The family to arrive here in Northampton is a family of 3 who speaks Arabic – a 56 year-old widow who suffered from polio and has limited mobility in her legs,and her two sons, both of whom are in their 20’s. The Westfield family includes a mother in her 30’s – also handicapped – her 14 year-old daughter and 2 year-old son. Catholic Charities now has to find wheelchairs and housing that’s handicapped accessible.
The 2 families make up 6 of the 51 refugees the agency plans on resettling. James Bryant of Holyoke, who comes to Northampton every day, looks forward to meeting his new neighbors. “Being able to interact with people and to learn another culture, to share, people in our history books have told us this country is built on that,” said Bryant.
Though the plan was to resettle all refugees in Northampton, the family heading to Westfield is joining their other family members there. The state found it best not to break them up.
Many Northampton residents and those who work in the city told 22News are excited for their very own “first family.” Heather Wardrop, who works in Northampton, expends a personal welcome to the family arriving Friday. “Welcome to the new family,” said Wardrop. “I personally welcome you here to Northampton and to the United States. I hope you find more peace and joy in your lives here than you have where you were coming from.”
A group of 10 volunteers will work with the first refugee family in Northampton for 90 days.