09 Oct 2015
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) – If and when Syrian refugees are placed in Chattanooga, their first stop will be at the Bridge Refugee Services. It’s the only non-profit to resettle refugees in Chattanooga and right now employees on are stand-by in case Syrian refugees are sent to the city.
“We are prepared to resettle and group, any ethnicity, anybody who will be allocated to this site,” said interim director Marina Peshterianu.
Over the past decade, hundreds of refugees from Bosnia, South Sudan, Vietnam and other countries around the world have all resettled in Chattanooga.
Now with the Syrian refugee crisis, Bridge Refugee Services is waiting to hear from the federal government if it could impact this community.
“So we’re in the first step of people,” Peshterianu said, “Who have the first hand knowledge to determine, what is a reasonable number?”
Each year, Marina and her staff help between 80-100 refugees find a new home in Chattanooga.
The US is expecting to increase the number of refugees they accept over the next two years.
President Obama said the U.S. will increase the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. to 100,000 per year for the next two years, an increase from the 75,000 the U.S. took in the 2014 fiscal year.
The increase comes as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis, but there’s no word yet on how many are coming to Chattanooga and when.
“I don’t think we will double our numbers or triple our numbers,” Peshterianu said “It’s just not done that way.”
Among the Syrian refugees already accepted into the United States, 70% are women and children.
Once refugees are taken to another country, the goal is for them to live, work, and adapt in a new and safe community.
“And I think in Chattanooga it’s very reasonable to expect that you can have it, you can do it, if you put your heart into it and hard work,” Peshterianu said.
Much of what the Bridge Refugee Services does runs on community support and is always looking for ways to partner with business and community organizations.
It is the only Chattanooga-area refugee affiliate registered with the federal government.