CLEVELAND (WJW) – Preparations are underway across Northeast Ohio for thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are expected to arrive soon.
Millions of Ukrainians have fled their homeland and into neighbor countries with only the clothing on their backs and what they could carry.
A handful have already landed, and anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 refugees are anticipated to arrive over the next few months.
Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland, says Northeast Ohio is a target location for a couple of reasons.
“Cleveland is the third largest Ukrainian community in the United States, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, so Cleveland’s already been a center for centuries for people from Ukraine,” said Cimperman. “And there are a lot of connections still here.”
Global Cleveland has been collecting donations and organizing volunteers for when they arrive.
Cimperman says, charities, churches, businesses and lawmakers have all been working together.
More than 200 volunteers have also offered help with everything from housing to finding jobs.
“People who volunteered to drive them around Cleveland and show them where the stores are, where different things are and people willing to help out with grocery store gift cards,” said Cimperman.
Right now they are working off of donations, but they are hoping to receive funds from the federal government and that the refugees will be granted unlimited work visas since it’s unclear how long they stay.
“The thing I want people to realize is that Cleveland is a place that welcomes everybody, that we’re a strong city and community as a result of it,” said Cimperman. “The truth is even in spite of these fluctuating times of our economy, there isn’t one company that isn’t looking for workers.”