Last summer, two unlikely friends met on Buffalo’s West Side. Fadzai, a 6 year old originally from Zimbabwe and Holly Sharifoglu, a social work major at SUNY Buffalo State spent mornings together for four weeks in July and August in the Buffalo Beginnings program.
A collaboration between the SUNY Buffalo State Community Academic Center, Journey’s End Refugee Services, and Buffalo Pubic Schools, Buffalo Beginnings provides educational supports to P-12 newcomer refugee youth in their first year living in the United States. Holly became aware of Buffalo Beginnings after enrolling in the Podolefsky AmeriCorps ABLE program supporting Buffalo State student to engage in extended service opportunities and receive a education award. She was excited to learn from working within the burgeoning refugee communities in Buffalo. Along with her fellow Podolefsky ABLE members and CAC staff, Holly worked with small groups of children enrolled in the program.
Since 2012 Buffalo Beginnings has engaged 31 Buffalo State students to support over 200 local refugee children living in Buffalo. While Fadzai graduated from the summer program in August 2016, the Buffalo Beginnings program continues with a new group of Buffalo State Podolefsky ABLEs and newcomer youth this fall.